Legendary Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis and Rome's CinecittaStudios are teaming up as joint owners of a sprawling new studio facility inOuarzazate, in southern Morocco.

Standing over 371 acres of land, the studio will be one of theworld's largest, with two shooting stages of 19,380 square feet each. The DinoDe Laurentiis-Cinecitta studio, which has been under construction for the lastyear, will be ready in the next few months.

The Ouarzazate area has already hosted a wealth of Hollywoodproductions in the past, from Ridley Scott's Gladiator and Kingdom ofHeaven, to Oliver Stone's Alexander.

Carol Andre-Smith, international marketing director atCinecitta, said the Italian studio's executives and De Laurentiis signed aletter of intent in Morocco last week in front of King Mohammed.

'Dino wanted the studio to be built before he gave his OK,because he wanted a very high quality and to make sure it was built the way hewanted. So he said he would not invest, and would not buy until it was built.Last week, we all went to see it and Dino said, 'it's cool!' Let's do it!'Andre-Smith said.

The studio in Ouarzazate is in the heart of a desert region thatcounts snow-capped mountains, sand dunes, and palm trees in the background. Thestudio is believed to have cost $8.3m to build, and was financed by Moroccanentrepreneurs.

'This is part of our idea of turning Rome and Cinecitta intoa European hub, and getting the best deal for producers,' saidAndre-Smith.

'We're still looking for a good deal to buy a studio inEastern Europe where we could then bring the right productions. We want toprovide producers with the best of Italy, the best locations and the bestprices,' she added.