Universal, Italian style: Adds partner in Cattleya

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Universal Pictures has taken a minority stake in Italian production banner Cattleya, while Focus Features International, Uni's recently realigned international sales unit, will partner with the shingle to develop, co-produce and distribute its films.

Universal Pictures International will distribute at least two films a year in Italy as a result of the two pacts, the companies said Monday.

Rome-based Cattleya is headed by Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz, with producer Francesca Longardi leading development. Recent output includes last year's Donatello winner "Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico" and the Oscar-nominated "La Bestia nel Cuore."

The first film released through the Universal/Cattleya deal will be Umberto Carteni's "Diverso da Chi," starring Luca Argentero and Claudia Gerini, set for March 20. The companies also have agreed to co-produce Luis Prieto's "Meno male che ci sei."

Under the new partnership, Universal and Cattleya have inked a separate deal that calls for Universal to handle Italian theatrical and home entertainment distribution on titles financed by Cattleya ofor the companies to co-produce pictures together. Focus Features International has the first option to handle international distribution on all future Cattleya films. (partialdiff)
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