Gianni Amelio’s Homophobia-Themed Drama ‘Lord of the Ants’ Reaches Top Italian Box Office Spot After Venice Bow

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Gianni Amelio’s “Lord of the Ants,” a biopic of Italian poet and playwright Aldo Braibanti, who was jailed in 1968 due to a Fascist-era anti-gay law, has reached the top spot at Italy’s box office following its launch from the Venice Film Festival.

“Ants” on Monday reached the numero uno position at the local box office roster with a €483,474 ($487,000) intake from more than 300 screens following its September 8 release. While far from stellar in normal times, this result is being hailed as an encouraging sign for the country’s still sagging post-pandemic theatrical sector.

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Amelio’s film is now ahead of Japanese anime pic “Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo,” which was released as an event on Monday for a three day run, and “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which is at the end of its run, following it’s Aug. 18 Italian outing.

“After being excellently received at the Venice Film Festival, Gianni Amelio’s film makes its mark at the box office,” said the film’s distributor 01 Distribution in a statement.

“It is a very positive sign for all Italian cinema at the beginning of a new season that follows a difficult period: the audience is returning to movie theaters,” the distributor underlined.

“Ants,” which is produced by Simone Gattoni and Marco Bellocchio, stars Luigi Lo Cascio (“The Ties”) as Braibanti, who was convicted after a complaint from his younger partner’s father, who later forced his son to be treated with electroconvulsive therapy in an ill-conceived attempt to rid him of his homosexuality. The Fascist-era law that punished Braibanti, which made it a crime to lead innocent or unwary people “morally” astray, was repealed in 1981.

Amelio in Venice told Variety that his main concern was “to was to make a popular film that could attract and resonate with a broad audience” and “not be overly bound to a meticulous reconstruction of everything that happened.”

The film which Variety critic Guy Lodge praised as “stirring and plangent when it needs to be” is being sold internationally by The Match Factory which closed several deals even prior to its Venice premiere.

The next Venice competition title to be launched in Italian theaters is Emanuele Crialese’s Penelope Cruz-starrer “L’Immensità” which Warner Bros. will release on Sept. 15

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