Valentine's Day romances record $1 mil for Italo pic

Brizzi's 'Notte' does it in single night

The special Valentine's Day opening for "Notte prima degli esami — Oggi" (Night Before Finals — Today) did something no Italian film had ever done — it raked in more than $1 million in one night.

O1 Distribution opted to open the romantic comedy — the follow-up to last year's successful and critically acclaimed "Notte Prima Degli Esami" (Night Before Finals) — on a Wednesday rather than on the traditional Friday to take advantage of Valentine's Day.

The film could continue its strong performance into the weekend, when it will actually be shown on more screens: 750, compared to 707 on Wednesday. Several of the films stars are touring the country to promote the film, with stops in Naples on Friday, Rome on Saturday, Milan on Sunday, and Palermo on Monday.

According to estimates from the National Cinema, Audiovisual, and Multimedia Industry Association, or ANICA, the film grossed at least €900 million ($1.2 million). That's the highest one-day gross ever for an Italian film.

"Notte Prima Degli Esami — Oggi" is directed by 38-year-old Fausto Brizzi, who before last year's film was best known for Filmauro's highly-successful "Christmas" series, including "Natale sul Nilo" (Christmas on the Nile) in 2002, "Natale in India" (Christmas in India) in 2003, "Christmas in Love" in 2004, "Natale a Miami" (Christmas in Miami) in 2005, and last year's "Natale a New York" (Christmas in New York).

For "Notte Prima Degli Esami," his first critical success, Brizzi won the Best New Director prize at the David di Donatello Awards, Italy's highest cinema honor.