Stallone Arrives at Rome Fest to Receive Award from Mayor

 John M. Heller/Getty Images

ROME – Sylvester Stallone grabbed the spotlight in the Eternal City Monday, when he arrived for a meeting with the public at the Tor Bella Monaca Theater on the outskirts of the city before receiving a special honor from Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno.

Stallone is in Rome in conjunction with the world premiere Wednesday of Walter Hill’s thriller Bullet to the Head, in which Stallone plays a hit man who forms an unlikely alliance with a police officer to hunt down a common enemy.

Stallone’s trip to the periphery of the city for a public discussion recalls a similar event from 2006, the festival’s inaugural edition, when Leonardo Di Caprio appeared at the same venue.

Stallone will also receive the Lupa Capitolina honor from Alemanno at the Campidoglio in the city center.

Stallone’s arrival adds some star power to the festival that has been criticized for failing to spark more interest among the capital’s movie-going public. The media has reported that ticket sales are down and that organizers have taken to lowering ticket prices dramatically in order to add to the size of crowds at the festival.

The lower-than-expected interest level comes during a dramatic slump in cinema ticket sales across Italy: the audiovisual association ANICA reported last week that cinema ticket sales in October were a stunning 41 percent lower than a year ago.

The festival will have reached its halfway point between Monday and Tuesday, but most of the big names have yet to arrive: James Franco will be honored with a special award later in the week, and Dreamworks’ animated adventure story Rise of the Guardians will premiere Tuesday, Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, tapped by some as a possible winner of the main competition, will premiere Thursday, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II will screen Tuesday.

The festival concludes on Saturday.

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