Italian Comedy 'Sun in Buckets' Sets New Opening Weekend Sales Record

The father-son comedy surpassed the record held by Checco Zalone's previous film, netting more than $25 million in four days.

ROME – Sun in Buckets (Sole a catinelle), the latest comedy starring Italian actor and comic Checco Zalone, earned a record $25.1 million (€18.6 million) in its first weekend, the cinema monitoring company Cinetel reported, surpassing the previous high set by Zalone’s last film nearly three years ago.

That means Zalone, a 36-year-old standup comic and musician with only three films to his credit, has the two biggest opening weekends on record in Italy, with James Cameron’s fantasy mega-hit Avatar in third.

Sun in Buckets (not an official translation of the film’s title), a father-son vacation comedy directed by Gennaro Nunziante, could be headed for even bigger things: Zalone’s previous film, What a Beautiful Day (Che bella giornata), also directed by Nunziante, went on to pass Roberto Benigni’s 1997 Oscar winner Life Is Beautiful (La vita e’ bella) to become the highest-grossing Italian film ever, based on domestic ticket sales.

Medusa, part of Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, is the distributor for both Sun in Buckets and What a Beautiful Day.

Despite his dramatic success in Italy, Zalone is little known beyond his native country’s borders. What a Beautiful Day, for example, had small festival releases in France and the Philippines and went into wide release outside of Italy only in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino.

When What a Beautiful Day surpassed Life Is Beautiful’s domestic box office record in January 2011, Zalone apologized to Benigni, noting that Benigni remained much, much better known outside Italy.

“If I am recognized by Hollywood and win three Oscars, then maybe we can say I surpassed him,” Zalone said.

With more than $70 million in worldwide earnings, Life Is Beautiful still holds the Italian record for overall sales.

Twitter: @EricJLyman