The International Circulation of ‘Romanzo criminale’

Published in 2002 and written by the judge Giancarlo De Cataldo, Romanzo criminale was inspired by the true story of the Banda della Magliana, one of the most powerful Italian criminal gang in the ’70s. The success of the novel was coherent in Italy, but scarce compared to that of Gomorra, which also gained immediate international recognition. As such, when the movie of the same name came out in 2005, the promotional angle and audience interest was more focused on the whole operation, rather than on the primary source itself. Interestingly, the “franchise” was revamped by the Sky TV series of the same name (2008-10), although, again, on a lesser scale than the Gomorra sensation.

Directed by Michele Placido, well-known in Italy and internationally for his portray of Carlo Cattani in the TV mafia drama La Piovra (Rai 1994-2001), Romanzo criminale was star-packed with actresses and actors particularly renowned in Italy, as well as emerging stars that later made their way in the Italian film industry, like Riccardo Scamarcio. It was produced by Cattleya (IT), Babe Films (FR), Aquarius Film (UK) and Warner Bros. Entertainment Italia, which also distributed the movie through Warner Bros. Pictures. The French TF1 Studio took care of international sales. Therefore, Romanzo criminale is listed as an Italian/UK/France co-production, but it did not benefit from a proper international distribution – something also demonstrated by the lack of data reproduced in this article.

In Italy, it was released on September 30th, 2005 across 371 screens, grossing $5.414.027 (€4.822.864) through 819.533 admissions. Domestically, in addition to its star power, Romanzo criminale gained further popularity thanks to several Italian awards: eight David di Donatello, one Globo D’oro and five Nastri d’Argento.

It was hoped that the 2006 Berlin Film Festival would provide an international springboard for Romanzo criminale. The film, however, did not win any awards and the rest of its circulation remained confined to minor and specialized film festivals, including, in 2006, the Festival Cinéma Méditerranéen à Bruxelles, the Festival de Cine Europeo de Sevilla, Ajaccio Italian Cinema Festival, the International Film Festival of India 2006, the Jerusalem International Film Festival and the Stockholm International Film Festival. In 2007, it was picked up again by the Tokyo Italian Film festival, the Festival Internacional de Cinema Negre de Manresa, the New Zealand Italian Film Festival and the Shanghai International Film Festival. It is also interesting to note that the European fund Eurimages awarded financial support for the distribution of Romanzo criminale to the Croatian distribution company Pa-dora.

 ReleaseScreensWeeksFirst WeekendBox Office ($)Admissions
IT30 September 2005
FR22 March 2006
UK3 November 2006
Italy (Screens, BO): Cinetel
UK and Italy admissions: LumièrePro
UK (all other data): BFI, Screen Daily
Switzerland: ProCinema
France Admissions: CNC


Data from ProCinema reveals that, in Switzerland, Romanzo ciminale earned $28.343 (Fr. 27.604) through 1.906 admission. However, we could not find an official release date, nor any further data.


Despite its partial French production, the movie did not benefit from a wide distribution in France and not even the two Golden Swann Awards at the 2006 Festival du film de Cabourg helped its cause. Romanzo ciminale officially debuted on March 22, 2006 and by the end of its run it attracted 362.511 admissions. No other data is available. At the end of October of the same year, the movie was presented at the Film Italien de Villerupt, but it did not gain any further visibility. However, the film is available to buy/rent on major national streaming services, including Canal VOD.

 Box Office ($)AdmissionsOTT - SVODOTT - Rent/Buy
/TimVision, Play Station, Chili, iTunes, GooglePlay, Microsoft Store, Rakuten TV
/Canal VOD, FilmoTV, Rakuten TV, GooglePlay, iTunes, YouTube
Data at June 2019


Distributed in the UK by Icon Film Distribution, Romanzo criminale was first presented at the BFI London Film Festival 2006, in the Film on the Square section. According to BFI data, the official release opened on 41 screens, and grossed $119.580 (£98.290) via 20.182 admissions over 7 weeks. At present, the movie is not available on any online platform.


In the US, Romanzo criminale was presented at several small and specialized festivals throughout 2006, including the Tribeca Film Festival 2006, the Cinema Italy – Miami/Atlanta/San Juan Italian Film Festival, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema and the Seattle International Film Festival 2006. In 2007, it also reached the Palm Springs International Film Festival and Italian Film Festival USA. However, it did not get any official theatrical release, nor it is available now on any online platforms.