Fourteen years after it became a cult movie across the world, Luc Besson's The Big Blue is at long last set to open in Italy following the resolution of a lengthy court battle.
Italian audiences will be able to enjoy the diving movie's premiere at the close of the European Film Festival in Viareggio on September 21st. Italian distribution rights are owned by Aurelio De Laurentiis's Rome outfit Filmauro, who expects to open the cult movie nationwide on September 27 on around 70 screens, although definitive figures are as yet unavailable.
The film's release puts a cap on a 14-year-old court case started by lawyers for Enzo Majorca, the Sicilian diver who led for years a legendary battle against his arch rival, Frenchman Jacques Mayol in a bid to hold onto the world's record for deep-sea diving without oxygen.
The Big Blue is based on the two divers' story, with Jean-Marc Barr playing the role of Jacques Mayol and Jean Reno portraying Majorca.
When he first found out about the script, Majorca felt that the film portrayed him in a particularly negative light. Besson says he asked him to collaborate on the film, as Mayol had done, but Majorca refused and lawyers eventually managed to block the film's release in Italy.
In December 2001, Mayol committed suicide. According to Italian press reports, shortly afterwards, Majorca, who is now 70 years-old, came to an agreement with Besson about removing some of the dialogue he considered particularly offensive.
"There are no guns, violence or sex. It's the first time ever a film of this kind has been blocked," Besson said jokingly in an interview with Rome daily La Repubblica.
"After Majorca refused to collaborate, out of correctness, I renamed his character Enzo Molinari. When the film came out in France, there was no reaction. But when it became a worldwide hit, all of a sudden, Majorca's lawyers woke up and opened a court case in Syracuse, Sicily. As you can work out, it's difficult for a Frenchman to win a legal battle in Sicily," he added.