Sony Pictures International Productions is venturing into local-language movies in Italy with the comedy “Un Natale in Famiglia” (“A Family Christmas”), which is currently shooting in Rome.
Alessandro Usai and Iginio Straffi of Colorado Film, which is owned by Straffi’s Rainbow Group, serve as producers on the film, which is the first of a three-picture deal between SPIP and Colorado.
Directed by Italian commercial comedies helmer Giovanni Bognetti (“When Mom is Away”), Sony’s first foray into Italian movies stars Christian De Sica and Angela Finocchiaro, who are both local box office draws.
De Sica, who is the son of late great neorealist director Vittorio De Sica, is among Italy’s most popular stars. He’s had leading roles in some of the country’s highest grossing Christmas movies, such as “Vacanze di Natale” and “Christmas in Love,” both produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis.
De Laurentiis, after churning out these lucrative Italian films for years, has stopped making them after becoming more involved in managing his SSC Napoli Calcio soccer team, leaving a gap in the Italian market that Sony now seems eager to fill.
Angela Finocchiaro is an Italian A-list actor who has starred in some of Italy’s biggest recent box office hits, such as “Welcome to the South,” the Italian remake of French mega-hit “Welcome to the Sticks.”
In “A Family Christmas,” De Sica and Finocchiaro play Carlo and Anna, middle-aged parents of a close-knit family living in the Italian provinces. Their grown kids move to the big city. Once away, they limit their family ties to a few brief phone calls, refusing to attend funerals, birthdays, or even spend Christmas in their former home. Then, when the angry parents lie and pretend they’ve inherited millions of Euros from an old aunt, they magically show up.
Besides Italian distribution, Sony will also hold worldwide distribution rights to the family comedy, which marks the studio’s first Italian-language production.
Sony Pictures International Productions, which is Sony’s local-language production arm, is co-headed by Shebnem Askin and Michael Rifkin. They release over 30 films annually across 12 territories around the world.
“We are thrilled to launch our Italian productions with a comedy in the tradition of an iconic Italian Christmas movie starring Christian De Sica and Angela Finocchiaro,” said Askin in a statement, adding that “this has been a true creative collaboration with Colorado Films and with powerhouse writer/director Giovanni Bognetti.”
Rifkin noted: “We have been looking for the right opportunity to enter the Italian market and found a perfect project with ‘A Family Christmas’ and Colorado Film.”
Said Colorado CEO Alessandro Usai: “We are glad and honored that such a world-class player as Sony Pictures International Productions has chosen the Rainbow – Colorado Film group as the partner for its first Italian local production. We wish it to be the beginning of a long and successful journey.”