MPAA, Italian Culture Minister, Promote Cinecittà Studios Revamp Plan Unveiled at Venice

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Plans to overhaul Rome’s iconic Cinecittà Studios and potentially turn them into the top European filming facility were officially unveiled Thursday at the Venice Film Festival with Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini and Stan McCoy, who is chief of the Motion Picture Assn. for Europe, on hand.

In June, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Italian premier Mario Draghi jointly visited the Cinecittà lot and held a press conference in its vast Studio 5 — known as the late, great filmmaker Federico Fellini’s second home — to announce a €300 million ($353 million) investment to “adequately meet the growing international demand” for studio space,” as Franceschini put it.

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“The exciting thing about the €300 million investment that is being made in Cinecittà is they will have the opportunity now to be at the cutting edge of technology, which is absolutely critical in making the best international content,” McCoy said.

“My advice is: seize the opportunity. Become the leader!” he added.

McCoy, who is president and managing director of the Motion Picture Assn. for Europe, Middle East and Africa, noted that, though competition among studios in Europe is fierce, Italy has been a great destination for international investment for generations. “As far back as 1914, American producers were coming to Italy to make silent films, so there is a great tradition, and long may it continue,” he said.

In April, former Warner Bros. and Sky Italia executive Nicola Maccanico was appointed chief of state entity Istituto Luce-Cinecittà, which runs the studios. He touched on some key aspects of the overhaul plan that entails a total of 10 new sound stages –– five brand new and five totally refurbished –– plus eight more shooting theaters to be built in a new area adjacent to Cinecittà’s current backlot, which will double its current space. The new filming facilities include LED walls to build 360-degree virtual sets, and state-of-the art underwater stages. Under the revamp plan, by 2026 Cinecittà will have a total of 32 stages.

“The world of streaming platforms is creating a European industry [on a scale] that was not conceivable with the traditional film industry,” Maccanico said. “This creates an opportunity for more production, and especially more production outside the U.S.”

Maccanico also noted that in this scenario, thanks to its 40% tax rebate for international productions, “Italy has a competitive edge.”

Fremantle COO Andrea Scrosati, who was on the panel, pointed out that, “while 10 years ago the goal for a studio was to present itself on the international market as the perfect for a U.S. production to come” there is now a change of paradigm.

“The big difference today is that going forward, Cinecittà can be full of Italian and European productions that can travel around the world,” he said.

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