Tarak Ben Ammar, head of the rights-trading venture Quinta Communications, has been named chairman of Roma Studios, the newly renovated and re-opened studios which were built by producer Dino De Laurentiis in 1964.
The first international picture expected to roll at the studios is Brian De Palma's upcoming movie, The Toyer. The Femme Fatale director is currently checking out the facilities in Rome for his new film. Exteriors will be shot in February in Venice during the town's famous Carnival, while interior scenes are expected to be filmed for nine or 10 weeks at the Tiber studios immediately afterwards.
The studios, which were previously known as Dinocitta, are situated on the outskirts of Rome and strategically located near the sea, countryside and mountains. They were completely abandoned 10 years ago and had been little used since their heyday during De Laurentiis's 10-year ownership, when the studio housed films such as John Huston's epic, The Bible.
With Rome's famous Cinecitta studios located just across the river Tiber, there were rumours recently that the two studios might merge. However, neither studio has confirmed such plans.
Ben Ammar, who has close ties to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said he now expects a series of 20 international pictures to roll at Roma Studios in the near future.
"After its renovation, this site has gone back to being a unique production facility, where one can breathe the history of cinema but can also use the most modern and avant-garde technologies," he said.
Tarak Ben Ammar has a 50.1% stake in Roma Studios through Promotion e Partecipatio Intl. The remaining shares are controlled by Seven Ventures Holding, owned by siblings Mauro Enrico, Evelyn and Valentina Parretti, and Raimondo Lagostena's Compagnie Europeenne de Cinema et de Television.
Lagostena and Mauro Enrico Parretti have been named managing directors of Roma Studios' board. Other board members are Mark Lombardo, Evelyn Parretti, Alex Palermo and Carlo Scarchilli.
Lagostena, a Milan television entrepreneur, and Riccardo Pisa, a real estate developer, acquired the studio last year for Euros 35m from French bank Credit Lyonnais. The deal was made possible after the bank resolved a lengthy legal dispute with disgraced Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti, renowned for his take-over of MGM in the early 1990s.