Cattleya-Warner: A winning combination
by Fabien Lemercier
- The third collaboration between the two companies
Spurred on by the highly dynamic Cattleya and its management trio (Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz), the ambitious Romanzo Criminale benefited from Warner Bros. Italia’s heavy involvement. This film marks the third collaboration between the two companies (following Three Steps Over Heaven (2004) and L’uomo perfetto, both by Luca Lucini) and Tozzi, Simona Benzakein (Vice President of European Productions at Warner Bros. Italia) and Paolo Ferrari (President of Warner Bros. Italia)
Riccardo Tozzi (Cattleya)
Romanzo Criminale [+see also:
interview: Michele Placido
film profile] is a film that had been around a bit, ever since we developed it for Marco Tullio Giordana, who refused the project when RAI was attached to it. We then talked to five or six [other] directors. Finally, we received a very serious offer from Warner and accepted it. So it’s a film that had a fairly messy start from a market perspective, with no director until the last minute. The budget rose to €8m through co-production agreements with the UK (Aquarius Film) and France (Babe Productions), a minimum guarantee on international sales, and through Warner’s involvement as co-producer and distributor (approximately 40% of the budget). Warner works very well with Italian cinema and I stress this because there are always doubts as to the studios’ ability to co-produce and distribute Italian films.
Simona Benzakein (Vice-President of European Productions for Warner Bros.) "Warner co-produced seven features over five years with independent Italian producers. But we are not content just to hand over money, we are involved in the artistic decisions, working with the producers from the beginning, the development of the screenplay and the casting. On Romanzo Criminale, it was very quick. Riccardo Tozzi, who bought the rights to the book, suggested I read it, and I thought it was magnificent. We then brought together quite a surprising cast for an Italian film, with a very good screenplay. And even though the budget was a bit higher than our previous two projects, the film deserved it. We are obviously working within tight parameters with regards to estimated release dates for distribution which we have to weigh up before deciding to get involved in a co-production or not. In Europe, our co-production strategy is Italy for Italy, Spain for Spain... If the films have international potential, that’s great (for example, TF1 International sold Crime Novel in Berlin, most notably to Germany and the UK), but we focus on the domestic market first. And in Italy, there are good directors, good screenwriters, good actors and lots of projects."
Paolo Ferrari (President, Warner Bros. Italy)
"We were in talks with Cattleya on this project and we decided to give it to Michele Placido. The original book Crime Novel was very successful, particularly in Rome and central Italy, add to that an exceptional cast of young actors. All the ingredients came together to create an excellent film that immediately had good results, especially in central Italy, but took off more slowly in the North and South. But word-to-mouth did its job and success spread gradually throughout the country. Warner was the first studio to invest in Italy’s domestic market and we will continue to do so since Italy still has great potential."
(Translated from French)