RAI Com Sells ‘Freaks Out’ to France, Japan; CEO Talks Strategy

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Italy’s RAI Com, which is the sales arm of Italian state broadcaster RAI, is scoring sales to key territories on Gabriele Mainetti’s “Freaks Out,” following the genre-bending film’s launch in competition at Venice.

Mainetti’s lavish historical fantasy set in 1943 Rome, where four “freaks” who work in a circus are left to their own devices when the Eternal City is bombed by Allied Forces, has been sold to Metropolitan Film for France and to The Klockwork Co. for Japan.

In an interview with Variety, RAI Com CEO Angelo Teodoli called these first sales on “Freaks,” which is screening at Rome’s MIA Market, “very important for us because due to COVID we were getting less titles,” while now things are perking up again.

The RAI Com lineup at MIA also includes another Venice title, Roberto Andò’s “The Hidden Child,” starring Silvio Orlando, who plays Cardinal Voiello in “The Young Pope,” and animation feature “Yaya and Lenny – The Walking Liberty” by Alessandro Rak, which launched from Locarno and will soon play in Italian theaters.

Teodoli pointed out that RAI Com, which sells films, TV dramas and also global rights to Italian performing arts events such as La Scala performances, is increasingly reaping revenues from streamers.

One of the main sources of revenue for RAI Com at the moment are transactional video on demand and other types of sales on eight streaming platforms where they have roughly 10,000 film titles and 970 TV dramas on sale, he noted.

“That’s the bulk of RAI Com’s business,” said Teodoli. “It’s a world that is in constant evolution that we are following very closely,” he added, underlining that there are potential rights issues with RAI’s RAI Play streaming platform.

“We have to figure out where we stand with AVOD [advertising-based video on demand] platforms like [ViacomCBS’s] Pluto TV because that could turn into a direct conflict with RAI Play and and the advertisers on RAI,” Teodoli said.

Teodoli said RAI Com will have 2021 revenues of around €110 million ($127.5 million) – while a figure for net profit is still being calculated.

On the TV side the company’s top sellers are “Non Uccidere” (“Thou Shalt Not Kill”), starring Miriam Leone as a feisty female detective, which plays on Walter Presents in the U.K. and Stateside, and on ARTE in France and Germany; “Inspector Coliandro”; “Imma Tataranni,” a new cop show with a female lead, which has been sold to Canal Plus in France, Disney Fox in Eastern Europe and AMC in Latin America; and Naples-set “The Bastards of Pizzofalcone.”

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