French films took a 3.6% slice of the total Italian market in 2008, behind films from US and Italy which together accounted for 90.7% of the 2008 box office revenue. UK films took a 2.6% market share.
Last year, only six non-US, non-Italian films made it into Italy’s top 100. They included Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream ($5.9m (EUR4.4m)), which was released by Filmauro. Allen’s Spanish-US co-production Vicky Cristina Barcelona grossed $7.9m (EUR5.9m) for Medusa.
France’s larger-scale productions found space in the top 100: Moviemax bought Babylon A.D. from StudioCanal at a private screening in Rome. It went on to gross $3.6m (EUR2.6m). Audiences were drawn to the novelty of the futuristic action style bolstered by Moviemax’s teaser marketing campaign that downplayed the sci-fi elements and focused on the special effects, star Vin Diesel and the action sequences. A suggestive campaign switched slogans from “What have you seen’” to “What did you feel’”
Also from France, Warner Bros Italy’s Asterix At The Olympic Games grossed $4.7m (EUR3.5m) thanks to Italian audience’s love for comic strips, the sports concept and the “fun” nature of the film reinforced by actor Gerard Depardieu during his Italian promotional tour. Medusa’s Welcome To The Sticks employed careful dubbing and a title with local resonance: Giu Al Nord (literally ‘down from the north’) which pointed to North-South cultural differences, which are as much a reality in Italy as they are in France. It grossed $4.1m (EUR3m). Smaller French titles such as Lucky Red’s Couscous ($2.5m (EUR1.9m)) and Mikado’s Palme d’Or winner The Class which grossed $2.2m (EUR1.6m) were also notable. BIM’s 2007 Golden Lion winner, Lust, Caution, crept into 99th position, grossing $2.1m (EUR1.58m).
TOP 100, 2008
25% - Percentage of Italian films in the top 100
6% - Percentage of foreign (non-Italian, non-Hollywood) films
ITALY: KEY INDIE DISTRIBUTORS
Need to know: Solid medium-sized player that distributes high-profile international titles such as Milk, Into The Wild and The Duchess. BIM also co-produces Ken Loach’s films and has been active for 25 years in Italy where it now has a 20-title per year slate, It aims to distribute “films with a hook”.
Who to know: Valerio de Paolis, president; Antonio Medici
Recent acquisitions: Niels Arden Oplev’s Men Who Hate Women, Rachid Bouchareb’s London River, Sam Mendes’ Away We Go; Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, and Stephen Sodebergh’s Che: Part One and Two.
Where to find them: Berlin/EFM, AFM, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Rome.
Need to know: Eagle is renowned for its eclectic international slate which comprises TV-friendly comedies, action and thrillers as well as classic horror with standout titles from Asia and continental Europe.
Recent acquisitions: Chris Weitz’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon; John Woo’s Red Cliff; Jon Chu’s Step Up 3D.
Who to know: Maria Grazia Vairo, head of acquisitions.
Where to find them: EFM/Berlin, AFM, Cannes, Toronto, Venice and Rome.
Need to know: Established mid-sized distributor of award-winning titles such as Slumdog Millionaire; The Wrestler, Waltz With Bashir. Lucky Red has introduced many directors to Italy such as Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai and Lars von Trier. It also co-produces projects from European talents such as Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo) and Alejandro Amenabar (The Sea Inside).
Who to know: Stefano Massenzi, head of acquisitions and business affairs, and Andrea Occhipinti, president.
Recent acquisitions: Kevin Tancharoen’s Fame, Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea.
Where to find them: Berlin/EFM, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, AFM, Rome.
Need to know: Large-scale, commercial outfit, known as the ‘Italian major’. Much of its slate is US specialty fare and product by local tour-de-forces Giuseppe Tornatore and Gabriele Muccino (whose films Baaria and Kiss Me Again are tentpoles on Medusa’s production slate). Medusa also handles European and international titles, sometimes as a co-production partner. Recent joint ventures include Pathe’s Welcome To The Sticks and Constantin’s Pope Joan.
Who to know: Faruk Alatan, head of acquisitions.
Recent acquisitions: Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, Dominic Sena’s Season Of The Witch.
Where to find them: European Film Market, Cannes, AFM, Venice, Rome.
Need to know: Moviemax is a mid-sized distributor which aims to fill the niche between quality and commercial fare. A marketing-driven company, the team can spend up to one year fine-tuning a campaign.
Who to know: Guglielmo Marchetti, CEO and head of sales; Roberto Proia, director of theatrical and marketing manager.
Recent acquisitions: Terry Gilliam’s Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s Game, Jorge Blanco and Javier Abad’s Planet 51.
Where to find them: AFM, Cannes, Sundance, EFM/Berlin, Venice, Toronto, Rome.
Need to know: Rai Cinema acquisitions are released through its theatrical distribution arm, 01 Distribution. It buys approximately 12 international titles a year with an eye on a subsequent prime-time TV broadcast on one of Rai’s three TV networks.
Who to know: Paola Malanga, head of acquisitions.
Recent acquisitions: Stephen Frears’ Cheri, Roman Polanski’s The Ghost, Jane Campion’s Bright Star.
Where to find them: AFM, Cannes, EFM/Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, Venice, Rome.