StudioCanal, the production and distribution subsidiary of Canal Plus and Vivendi Universal, has set up StudioCanal Urania, a new Rome based company that will produce up to three Italian films per year.

The move comes despite rumours of Studiocanal shrinking its foreign operations. "This reflects the group's commitment to strengthening its presence in film production in Europe and include film distribution through 01-Distribution [a RAI-Studiocanal joint venture]," the company said in a statement.

The new venture is based around Conchita Airoldi, an actress-turned-producer whose Urania has been involved Constantin Costa Gavras' with La Petite Apocalypse and Michele Soavi's Dellamorte Dellamore.

The initial slate includes Non A caso Il Caso, a sentimental comedy that shoots from next week in Greece directed by Daniele Luchetti; Arrivederci, Amore Ciao, a thriller directed by Soavi from massimo Carlotto's novel; and Il Dono Di Gabriel, another film by Luchetti adapted from a Hanif Kureishi novel.