ROME (Reuters) - As Italy drags itself out of the deepest recession since World War Two, Italians are laughing at a holiday film that makes fun of their country's economic woes.
"Sole a Catinelle" (which roughly translates as "The Sun is Shining Cats and Dogs") has made 50 million euros ($69 million)at the box-office in less than a month, a success not rivaled in Italian cinemas since James Cameron's 2009 film Avatar.
The film is set in today's Italy, overloaded with public debt and struggling to emerge from recession with a jobless rate of more than 40 percent among non-studying 15-24-year-olds.
The story focuses on 36-year-old Luca Medici from Bari, in the southeastern region of Puglia, a husband and father who, like many Italians, has lived for years beyond his means.
After years of unexpected success as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and lavish spending on high-tech gadgets, he suddenly loses his job and is haunted by motley creditors.
Medici's family life is strained, with a wife who is also about to lose her job and a nine-year-old son with whom he has difficulty relating. So he decides to gamble everything with a dream holiday aimed at patching up family differences.
The movie is providing some rare welcome news for Italy's film industry, which was suffering even before the economic crisis and which has seen revenues slump over the past year.
Buoyed by the popularity of "Sole a Catinelle", its producers are talking to foreign counterparts about remaking the film in the United States, Germany, France and Spain, according to Pietro Valsecchi, the chief executive of Taodue, a unit of Italian media company Mediaset which produced the movie.
"Several foreign companies are interested in the idea of a remake. French producers say the movie is charming, but I've also heard from the United States, Germany and Spain," Valsecchi said.
One evening this month, a 77-year-old Milanese grandmother took her teenage grandson to see "Sole a Catinelle".
"This is just the kind of film that makes you think," said the woman, who declined to give her name. "The movie is funny but never gross, light but not commonplace."
(Editing by Alessandra Galloni and Alistair Lyon)