In January, when Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” launched in Italy at a special venue at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios equipped with a 70mm projector, Raffaella Leone had reason to be particularly proud.Leone Film Group, the company founded in 1989 by spaghetti Western master Sergio Leone and now run by his children, Raffaella and Andrea, is the Italian co-distributor of the film, shot in Ultra Panavision. “It has a special meaning for us,” she says. “It takes us back to our...
The daughter of Italian spaghetti Western master Sergio Leone disrupted the dynamics of Italian theatrical distribution after her company stepped into a theatrical distribution gap left open by Silvio Berlusconi-owned Medusa and pubcaster RAI’s Rai Cinema.
Up until 2012, Leone had mainly been distributing movies for TV. Then “three or four years ago, we realized something was changing,” she told Variety in 2016. Medusa and Rai Cinema, both tied to broadcasters, began to focus more on TV dramas and local movies. “Top-tier production companies in Hollywood were sending us their lineups, and asking if we were interested.”
A deal with DreamWorks swiftly followed. The Leone family floated the company on the Milan stock market in December 2013. Soon after that came multiyear agreements with Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co. The company also has gone into local production, acquiring local shingle Lotus Prod., which made recent hit comedy “Perfect Strangers.”
Upcoming features by prominent local helmers Paolo Virzi and Giuseppe Tornatore are in their pipeline. And in 2016 they announced they were branching out into high-end TV for the international market with “I Beati Paoli,” a Mafia origins skein conceived by Tornatore, among other projects. In 2016 Maite Bulgari, wife of Paolo Bulgari, chairman of the luxury goods company, and a TV producer, bought a 10.6 percent Leone Film Group in a move to bolster its TV side. The company has also pacted with Rome’s Cinecitta Studios to jointly service Hollywood productions.