For Americans it's a Christmas tradition watching Ralphie get his tongue frozen to a flagpole and beg his parents for a Red Ryder BB gun. For Italians it's going to "the Christmas blockbuster," which might be a new film each year but with a familiar story. This year's film will have a brand new "star," however, Costa Serena.
The films are a series by Aurelio and Luigi De Laurentiss that have basically the same plot, same stars, same jokes but a new and most fashionable setting each year, and the films are released at Christmas each year. (Americans will know the De Laurentiss' daughter, Giada De Laurentiss, from her show on the Food Network and as a part-time host on the Today show.) This year the setting for "Natale in Crociera" ("Christmas on a Cruise") will be aboard Costa Cruise Lines' new Costa Serena. The 114,500-ton ship is Costa's newest and was just delivered by Fincantieri in May, and we're told the ship actually figures into the plot of this year's story.
Filming has begun (some of it on the ship), and the company has set up a blog with production updates at http://blog.nataleincrociera.it/, although it is only in Italian. (Google can provide a rough translation, but you're on your own for the YouTube clips.) Apparently in Italy, films can be produced much faster than in America, because it set to be released already on December 14, 2007. If you want to catch Natale in Crociera over the Christmas holidays, you will have to make a quick trip to Italy; the films are only released in Italy and Switzerland.
The series of comedies has been going on for 30 years, and not only are they a tradition, but they are profitable. They often come out to be the top box office draws of the year in Italy, and in 2005, for example, Natale a Miami (Christmas in Miami) outgrossed King Kong and Harry Potter. Other recent films in the series include Natale sul Nilo (2002, Christmas on the Nile), Natale in India (2003, Christmas in India), Christmas in Love (2004) and Natale a New York (2006, Christmas in New York), which was the highest grossing ever.
Before you snicker, just remember, we in America don't seem to be able to stop looking at Britney Spears.