Taormina Festival Chief Felice Laudadio has announced that the 50th edition of the international event will take place from June 11th to 19th 2004.

"The earlier dates worked very well this year, and films such as Phone Booth and Identity, which received their Italian premiere in Taormina, went on to do very well at the Italian box office this summer," Laudadio told ScreenDaily.com.

Although neither film benefited from huge star appeal in Italy, Phone Booth grossed a solid Euros 1.1m for 20th Century Fox while Identity took Euros 912,000 for Columbia Tristar Italia.

Laudadio has been trying to push US studios to use Taormina as a launch-pad for their summer pictures ever since he took over the reins of the festival in 2000.

That year Taormina achieved a major publicity coup when it was chosen as the European launch-pad of Mission Impossible:2.

With buzz heightened by the presence of Tom Cruise in the Sicilian town, the film went on to become Italy's first-ever summer blockbuster earning almost Euros 10m for UIP.

The first Mission:Impossible movie, released in Italy in September 1996, took Euros 7.2m.