UK-based ITV Studios recently acquired a controlling stake in top Italian production Caddleya, which produced "Gomorrah" for Sky and "Suburra" for Netflix. The agreement was the largest foreign acquisition in the Italian media sphere in recent times. Cattleya's founding partner Riccardo Tozzi spoke exclusively with Variety about the vision behind the company's increasingly international focus, which he believes drives the success of Italian TV dramas in the global market and the next steps to take.
What motivated the Cattleya sale to ITV studios and what is their significance – not just for Cattleya, but perhaps for the Italian TV industry as a whole?
ITV Studios is the largest aggregator of production companies in Europe. Being part of it puts us at the heart of the international TV production system. It is a tribute to the quality of our products, but also indirectly to the high standard of Italian screenwriting.
Italian-written content has the integrated advantage of a large audience at home. But what about the international prospects for Italian shows? "Gomorra" and "The Young Pope" have clearly made global progress. What do you see as next steps?
Script-based production has a long tradition in Italy. It is part of our TV story from the beginning [pubcaster] Rai broadcasts. "Sceneggiati", as they were called here [before the term “fiction” was coined for TV dramas]are part of the DNA of the collective imagination of Italian television viewers. Your ratings are not equal in Europe. It can be said that the entire Free TV system in Italy is based to a large extent on the scripted narratives produced by Rai Fiction. And their specific trait has always been closely related to films, starting with the series of [film helmers] Luigi Comencini, Lina Wertmüller, Renato Castellani, Giuliano Montaldo and others. The style of our best "Sceneggiati" is cinematic, strongly rooted in reality, but also rich in visuals. This is the case with "Gomorrah" and "The Young Pope," and I am sure that it will be the same with "My Brilliant Friend" and "The Name of the Rose". It's Italy's strong suit and the reason for our escalating international game of success. We will continue to grow as we increasingly appreciate it. We have to be like a Ferrari, or at least an Alfa Romeo!
What can you tell me about what's in the Cattleya pipeline on the TV page?
This spring we will start shooting "ZeroZero-Zero," The series is based on [Roberto] Saviano's book with Stefano Sollima ("Soldado") – now destined for a great future in American cinema – as principal director. We will also be shooting the fourth season of "Gomorra" and the second season of "Suburra". We are in advanced development with Django, a very special Western about globalization; and also on "Romulus", directed by Matteo Rovere … and with "The Kingdom", based on the book by Emanuel Carrere, directed by Agnieszka Holland.
The crucial role that Sky played in making Italian television International is well known. But now Rai seems to have taken the challenge. Do you agree?
Sky has certainly contributed to the emergence of a new series of series in Italy and has driven this process forward. And now Netflix is also adding new resources. But I really need to underline the speed and determination with which Rai has tackled this trend with bold and innovative projects, such as participation in Suburra. Now I am waiting for a creative impulse from the new leadership of Mediaset Drama Department as well.
Some Italian broadcasters, including Mediaset, are not pleased with the quota system that the government has just introduced. What did you mean by that?
Well, let's say that the [culture] minister threw his heart over the fence … and now we have to reach it! But I think that with some reflection we will find the right solutions. Broadcasters are very interested in developing television and film content. It is a worldwide trend.