Local biz is beyond boffo for laffer "What a Beautiful Day," helmer Gennaro Nunziante's second outing with TV comic Checco Zalone. After only two weeks onscreen, the pic, promoted as a politically incorrect comedy designed to put prejudices in check, has become Italy's top-grossing homegrown production, raking in $42 million and counting. Yet this unapologetically formulaic comedy, about a proudly thick-headed security guard who gets romantically entangled with a half-hearted Islamic terrorist, is uninterested in challenging auds and never truly...
Actor, screenwriter, and singer Checco Zalone toplines comedies that systematically break Italian box office records. His most recent, 2016’s “Quo Vado,” took in $70 million at the Italian box office.
Born in the Southern port city of Bari, Zalone cut his teeth as a standup comic in local clubs before being recruited to appear on the national variety show “Zelig,” on Mediaset’s flagship Canale 5 station.
He has made the vernacular of the Italian South his trademark. In his first movie, 2009’s “Cado dalle Nubi” (Falling from the Clouds), he played an aspiring singer who moves from the Apulia region to Milan, hoping to break out. The film, which he co-wrote with regular collaborator Gennaro Nunziante, who has directed all of Zalone’s movies, made more than $14.5 million, a record for a first film.
He followed that in 2011 with “Che Bella Giornata” (What a Beautiful Day), a politically incorrect comedy in which Zalone plays a Milan security guard with the hots for a sexy Arab who’s an aspiring terrorist. It pulled in a whopping $57 million. 2013’s “Sole a Catinelle” grossed about the same.
Then came “Quo Vado,” about a Southern Italian slacker hell-bent on holding onto his government job even when he is transferred to the North Pole. The film, producer Pietro Valsecchi told Variety, succeeded “beyond anyone’s imagination,” becoming the second-highest grossing movie ever in Italy (after “Avatar”).