December 4, 2022

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Cover Story – Luigi Lunegro: “It’s Time to Change the Music”

Among the films in development or nearing completion?
Among the various projects, I would like to mention I’m a captain by Mathieu Garron, the transfer by Marco Bellocchio E Mixed by Erry by Sydney Sibelia. I am sure that the three extraordinary authors of these films, belonging to three different generations, will give us great works that will surprise, surprise and excite, just as I hope Italian cinema will do in the future.

How do you judge the overall presentation of Italian cinema in the coming months?
Just enough and with commercial potential unable to fill the temporary void left by the American producer, at least until early December. Nevertheless, I hope that the quality of Italian titles that will appear on screens in the last months of 2022 will generate positive word of mouth capable of bringing viewers closer to enjoying our cinematography.

Despite the epidemic, more than 200 films are still produced annually: many of them hardly appear in theaters, and a few exceed one million euros at the box office. Tax credit applications have quadrupled since 2019. How far can we go?
I sincerely hope as little as possible. We are in a moment of productive frenzy in which hundreds of securities are cashed out annually thanks to the 40% tax credit. Too much for our market. In this way, there is a risk of prioritizing you over quality, without putting theatrical box office result in the center of the project. The first consequence is that for many Italian titles, the theatrical release has been reduced only to a tool for complying with legal obligations, trying to lose as little as possible in promotional expenses, access to public funding and subsequent exploitation. If we do not want to banish spectators forever from national productions, we will have to reverse the trend as quickly as possible, rebuilding a relationship of trust with the spectator with great films designed for cinema, which are now discontinued and will not be stopped. To be easy to re-establish in the short term. It is possible that our industry, perhaps also due to the pandemic, has not been able to improve on the many advantages derived from Franceschini’s law, which has led to the creation of a two-speed industry, of which there has not been much in the past two years compared to a share of the lowest market for domestic products in the fifteen years past.

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Luigi Lunegro (© Rocco Giurato and Riccardo Ghilardi)

What kind of balance do you want between cinema and stage?
I have always hoped and believed that the emergence of platforms would enrich our industry with new capital and new energy, with a higher budget and international films. I wanted more detailed and in-depth production paths, more accurate scripts, and more business with big box office ambitions capable of generating real added value for the entire supply chain. Unfortunately, at least for now, that wasn’t the case. Investments arrived, even on a large scale, but mostly resulted in quantity rather than the necessary quality. We’re still in the data analysis stage, but the first numbers indicate that movies running in theaters don’t always make it into the top ten on platforms. In fact, from the data provided by the major streaming services, it turns out that comedy remains the most popular genre with subscribers while in theater it struggles to get past results. We have not yet been able to understand if these audiences are different, or if the same subject favors one genre in domestic consumption and another on the big screen, or if spectators are simply satisfied with the many unreleased Italian comedies, with paramount importance, which can Easily used with a simple subscription to svod. It is necessary to make a clear distinction between what is produced for cinematic exploitation and what is primarily intended for consumption on the podium, rescinding the latter’s obligation to use the theater as a formal corridor and without any ambition, which also leads to confusion in both exhibitors and viewers. If it is true that the pandemic and the closing of cinemas have generated an unprecedented demand for content, we hope that with things back to normal we can find the time and desire to get back to producing as much great cinema for the hall as well as it is meant to be. for use on the platform. The optimal outcome would be the ability to return the box office to pre-pandemic levels, as happened in France, where a reality like Netflix has more than 10 million subscribers (more than twice Italy) demonstrating the impressive results for theaters and platforms. It can go hand in hand.

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Shadow of Caravaggio (© 01 Distribution)

Are you satisfied with the current rules on the chronology of the exploitation of an Italian film, or will they change something?
I think that the current organization of the national product chronology was built at a time when there was a lot of confusion and urgency. Within a few months, we went from a 105-day commitment to “free for all,” then go back to 30 days and end up at 90 days for everyone. I still think that not all films are the same and therefore not all can be treated in the same way, so windows longer than the current 90 days for some titles with a downward adjustment, according to the French model, for certain types of products and from the subsequent exploitation of the room. Unfortunately, I believe that there is no country in the world where the chronology of exploitation has been as confused as in ours. I will make low-budget films (less than €2 million) free of any restrictions by not forcing them to go out in theaters, often without proper investments, leaving producers and distributors the right to choose the best course of action for each individual action after completing a product. In this regard, we pay the price for the lack of a mid-range industrial vision, unlike other regions similar to ours that have been able to manage this problem in the best possible way even at a very critical moment for everyone. Today we live in the paradox of being able to rely on one of the best cinema laws in the world (with the exception of France) in terms of economic resources, but in being among the weakest, in terms of per capita consumption, in the theatrical fund. office level. We must certainly check the chronology of exploitation to find the right balance also in light of a world in constant and sudden change.

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Hummingbird (© Courtesy of 01 Distribution)

Italian cinema continues to face the summer window with difficulty. What would it take to reverse this trend?
Italian cinema must first of all regain possession of its audience in the months of high performance so that it can then face the summer months with proposals with great potential. American cinema teaches us that great results are obtained in the summer with great films, and our cinema has shown, in the best of seasons, that great films correspond to great results regardless of the release period. It is no coincidence that in 2021 the first and second Italian films were released in the summer. It also takes confidence, courage and risk-sharing on the part of producers for the benefit of the market.

What do you think are the reasons for the public’s dissatisfaction with Italian cinema?
From January to March 2020, Italian cinema recorded a market share of 35% thanks to the release of a few important titles in the first months of the year. We’re only talking about two and a half years and it seems like an eternity. Certainly there have been many important factors in recent years, such as…

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