A deal for Warner Bros to distribute Sony films in the territory has been confirmed.

Warner Bros. Pictures International and Sony Pictures Releasing International have entered into a new distribution agreement in Italy, it was announced today by Rory Bruer, President of Worldwide Distribution for Sony Pictures Releasing and Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President, Warner Bros. Pictures International Distribution.

Under the terms of the deal, Warner will release Sony films in Italy starting July 1, 2011. The companies already have similar deals in Portugal and Italy.

Sony now plans to shut its office in Rome. “We believe this decision is the smartest and most efficient way to continue serving theaters and audiences in Italy,” said Bruer.

Kwan-Rubinek added: “We have a great working relationship with Sony through our existing ventures, and we are very excited to be distributing Sony’s product in Italy.”

Sony Pictures Releasing Italy, as the major is called here, last made a deal in March 2009 to release 13 films from independent distributor Mediafilm, aiming to increase their output to about 30 pictures per year. However, according to Cinetel, Italy’s ticket compiler, Sony Pictures Releasing Italy in 2010 released 17 films including one 3D title with total receipts reaching just over $36 million, landing them as ninth-place distributor for 2010.

So far in 2011 Sony Pictures Releasing Italy has released seven pictures including their top grosser so far this year, Just Go With It, which took $2.2 million. 2011 has been very challenging for US product as Italian fare dominated in the first quarter, taking 60% of the box office.

Warner Bros was second-place distributor for the 2010 year with their total box office reaching $134.6m.

Both majors have been active in investing in local films, while Sony’s investment in that sense has waned in recent years as Warner Bros picks up, Sony was nonetheless the first US major to invest in a local picture, Luca Guadagnino’s 2004 Melissa P. based on the book by a teen who detailed her sexual escapades.

Warner Bros has done very well with local films and in 2010 they produced the Carlo Verdone title Io, Loro E Lara  that earned $21,027,900 that was the seventh top grosser for the year.

In other news regarding US majors in Italy, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Italy is said to be winding down their operations in Rome, while offices are still up and running  it is understood that Milan will become operational headquarters for the territory, potentially as of September.

In February it was announced that long time Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Italia General Manager Paul Zonderland left to take over operations for the company from Benelux while Stefano Bethlen has been promoted to the position of head of theatrical for Italy.