Welcome to Global Breakouts, Deadline’s fortnightly strand in which we shine a spotlight on the TV shows and films killing it in their local territories. The industry is as globalized as it’s ever been, but breakout hits are emerging in pockets of the world all the time and it can be hard to keep track. So we’re going to do the hard work for you.
This week we explore Italian movie hit There’s Still Tomorrow, which begins rolling out on cinema screens worldwide this spring with other key deals underway after a stellar release back home last fall, where it is now the ninth highest-grossing film in the history of the country’s box office.
More from Deadline
Name: There’s Still Tomorrow
Seller: Vision Distribution
Where you can watch: In cinemas worldwide (see distributor list below)
For fans of: Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful, Ettore Scola’s A Special Day, Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso
Italian actress and director Paola Cortellesi’s debut feature There’s Still Tomorrow has been credited with helping to shake Italy’s box office out of its post-pandemic torpor in 2023 and now looks set for an equally sparkling international career.
The film drew 4.8M spectators for Vision Distribution in Italy last year for a $35M ($33M euros) gross following its October 26 release, beating global box office giant Barbie, which drew 4.3M Italian cinemagoers.
On the face of it, the black-and-white drama also starring Cortellesi as a downtrodden Rome housewife dealing with domestic violence, against the backdrop of Italy’s post-World War Two 1946 referendum giving women the right to vote, seemed an unlikely box office hit — let alone international seller.
“A movie about domestic violence in black and white was surely going to be a big challenge but her vision was so clear right from the start that it was something you don’t often see in a first-time director,” says Mario Gianani, who produced the movie with Lorenzo Gangarossa under the banner of Rome-based company Wildside.
Gianani stayed with Cortellesi’s idea having previously produced a number of films starring the actress, some of which she had co-written. “We always hoped and wished for her to take this step behind the camera and, when she came to us with this idea, we immediately understood that it was an important story to tell and that we should follow her down the line,” he says.
Catia Rossi, Head of Sales at Vision Distribution, recounts it was hard to sell the film on paper on the basis of its concept and messaging around women’s rights alone. “We were pushing a period film in black and white by a first-time director, so we had to wait for the buyers to see the movie,” she says.
“We immediately understood the great potential of the movie as soon as we had shown it for the first time to the buyers during the last Italian Screenings, organized by Cinecittà in Trieste in July and we immediately got very positive feedback. We closed half of the territories at that event before the incredible results at the Italian box office.”
One of the highest profile theatrical deals do date has been to Universal Pictures International with other sales announced in the fall including to Denmark, Finland and Norway (Future Films) and Greece (Weirdwave), Spain (Bteam), Australia and (Limelight), Benelux (Arti Film), Brazil (Pandora), Sweden (Folkets Bio), Portugal (Sorpasso), Switzerland (MFD), Hungary (Mozinet), Taiwan (Swallow Wings), Bulgaria (Beta Film) and Israel (Lev/Shani).
“Since then, we have closed deals for further three territories with great distributors: Tobis in Germany and Austria, Contents Panda in South Korea and Gutek in Poland,” says Rossi.
Andrea Scrosati, Group COO and CEO Continental Europe, of Wildside owner Fremantle, adds: “I love Paola, whom I have known for 25 years, and thought that the idea was very strong, but none of us dreamt that we’d reach these numbers at the box office. But then, in this business I know one thing: when you do the first screening of a movie you know it will be a success if people in the room laugh or cry. With There’s Still Tomorrow, people did both. That is when I understood it could be something truly special.”
The concrete first sign that they had had a winner on their hands was when the film snapped up the Jury Prize, Audience Prize and Special Jury Mention for Best First Feature following its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival last October.
“I think it touched a raw nerve, a topic that fills the newspapers every day and which evidently needed a social and cultural debate,” says Gianani, who is set to exit Wildside and begin a new venture with former production partner Lorenzo Mieli.
Hopes are now high that for the film’s chances in Italy’s David di Donatello awards in May and Gianani has not ruled out the film’s potential for the 2024/25 awards season. “The movie came out in 2023, but of course if it’s eligible and falls within the terms rules by the academy, we will obviously submit,” he says.
Rossi continues to work on sales and will take the film to Berlin’s upcoming European Film Market (EFM) in February.
“We are working intensively for the UK, Latin America and Japan and we are confident to find a distributor there. We will of course keep selling the film at the EFM for the few left countries,” says the sales veteran. She is also optimistic about a potential U.S. deal in the near future.
In the meantime, the film will start its international theatrical roll-out this spring kicking off with France on March 13, followed by Germany on April 4, Belgium and Netherlands on March 20 and Spain on April 26.
“There’s Still Tomorrow is doing something that few films typically manage: bringing critics and audiences together,” says Gianani. “I thank Paola for giving us her unique and delicate perspective on such an important topic. We knew we had a jewel in our hands, but we couldn’t hope for so much love all-around.”
Best of Deadline