EXCLUSIVE: Company’s increased acquisition drive includes post Cannes purchase of boxing drama Bleed For This.  

Rome-based distributor Notorious Pictures made its debut today on the Italian AIM market, the country’s alternative capital market for small and medium-sized companies.

Founded in 2012, the company has seen rapid growth over the last 18 months, climbing to number four in Italy’s distributor rankings for the first three months of 2014, from number 10 in 2013.

Notorious Pictures CEO and founder Guglielmo Marchetti told ScreenDaily in an exclusive interview that the €7.5m ($10m) raised through the move would be used to increase acquisitions and enter production.

The €7.5m ($10m) represents roughly 10.3% of the company’s total capital, said Marchetti, who controls the remaining 89.7%.

“Becoming a public quoted company is an important step for Notorious,” said Marchetti. “It gives us access to new sources of finance which will enable us to further expand.

“There are two poles of growth we want to pursue. Firstly, we want to increase our international acquisitions from 15 to 20 films a year and within that pick-up more bigger budget, commercial productions with important casts.”

He noted the company’s main focus was on North American product but not exclusively.

“Roughly 60% of our acquisitions hail from North America but we also pick up European titles, in particular from France where they have a high level of production,” said Marchetti.

Notorious’ box office hits this year include two French features: Gaumont’s Belle and Sebastian, which grossed nearly $10m; and Pathé’s Beauty and the Beast, which made $7m.

“We also want to start getting involved in production, both at a local and an international level,” he continued. “The Italian-language films will be mainly comedies. Internationally, we want to work on English-language films with European or North American partners.” 

Recent acquisitions

On the recent acquisitions front, Marchetti said the company has just completed a post-Cannes acquisition of Bleed For This, starring Miles Teller as real-life boxing champion Vinny Pazienza who overcame a broken neck to win more titles. Aaron Eckhart stars as his trainer Kevin Rooney. 

International sales are handled by Synchronicity, a division of The Solution Entertainment Group.

Other previously announced Cannes acquisitions included Japanese Mamoru Oshii’s English-language, sci-fi picture The Last Druid: Garm Wars; Splash Entertainment’s polar bear ecology drama Norm of the North; Gerald Butler thriller Den of Thieves; French fantasy animation Mune; and comedy That Awkward Moment.

The latter will be released this August and the remaining four titles are scheduled to hit theatres in 2015. Notorious spent some €1.7m ($2.3m) on the five titles.

Other films on 2015 slate include Kevin Macdonald’s Black Sea, John Cusack-starrer Cell, Dan Gilroy’s crime thriller Nightcrawler, psychological hunting thriller The Reach, Alain Gsponer’s family film Little Ghost and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s China-set epic Wolf Totem.

First productions

On the production front, Notorious is currently developing an Italian remake of the 2012 French romantic comedy Plan de Table, originally directed by Christelle Raynal, about a wedding seating plan which changes the destiny of the guests.

Notorious released the film in July 2013 under the Italian title of Se sposti un posto a tavola.

“It’s a film in the vein of Sliding Doors set against the backdrop of a wedding looking at how chance events can change a person’s destiny,” said Marchetti. “In this case, it’s a seating plan which change romantic fates.” 

Notorious will produce and executive produce the feature and is also in talks with potential Italian partners. A director and cast have yet to be attached to the film for which the Italian script is currently being written. Marchetti envisages a shoot in April/May 2015.

He said there was no international co-production news as yet.

“We see international co-productions as an important pole of our growth but we have nothing concrete to announce as yet,” he said. “Over the next three months we want to create a dedicated production team which will develop this side of the business.”

Prior to launching Notorious Pictures, Marchetti created and then served as director of the Moviemax Media Group for more than a decade. Prior to that, he was the sales manager for Buena Vista Home Entertainment in Italy.

Marchetti puts Notorious’ early success down to the company’s “industrial approach” and the decade long collaboration between him and a number of key members of the Notorious team who followed him from Moviemax. 

“Aside from the artistic merit of a film, which of course is key, we also look closely at the economic potential… before acquiring a title we do a detailed financial appraisal to make sure we don’t compromise the company margins,” he said.

Aside from bumping up its acquisition and production strategies, the all-rights distributor also extended its digital distribution reach earlier this month through pacts with iTunes, Google Play and Sony Entertainment.

“It remains a relatively small source of revenue in Italy,” said Marchetti of digital sales via VOD or EST deals. “But it’s growing.”