Magazine article Variety

Homegrown Fare Outshining Vaunted Imports

Magazine article Variety

Homegrown Fare Outshining Vaunted Imports

Article excerpt

ROME

Italy's indie distributors will be treading cautiously in Cannes, despite a 22% year-on-year rise in local box office in the first quarter of 2007.

That's because commercial local romancers, such as smash hit "Love Manual 2," are driving the market, giving local pics a boffo 40% share, while arty imports have been flopping.

Even "Babel," for all its Oscar cachet, drew a mere $3.5 million. "The Queen" and "Children of Men" underperformed, as did last year's Palme d'Or winner "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." For niche fare like "Black Book" and an "An Inconvenient Truth," it's been a downright bloodbath.

"Our plan is less movies and bigger movies," says Alessandro Usai, recently installed topper of indie Mikado.

The boutique distrib is emblematic of the current state of affairs. It had been bought by publisher De Agostini last year from founders Roberto Cicutto and Luigi Musini, whose determinedly auterish inclinations had driven it deep into debt.

"Festival titles that a few years ago played well in theaters and then landed a TV sale have now become a total rarity," Usai notes. …

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