Cinecitta studios

Italy’s Cinecittà Studios is no longer pressing ahead with plans for a major expansion.

The legendary Rome production facility was set to acquire a 76-acre plot of land adjacent to the studios where it planned to build eight more sound stages and to expand its backlot.

The land was controlled by Italian state development bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which agreed two years ago to sell it to Cinecittà. However, the deal is no longer progressing and has been complicated by the fact that two acres of the plot have been found to contain archaeological remains.

Chiara Sbargia

Source: Daniele Mignardi Promopressagency

Chiara Sbargia

“We will now stay within the border of the ancient Cinecittà,” Chiara Sbargia, the president of Cinecittà, told Screen.

The original deal would have seen CDP become an investor in Cinecittà. Sbargia explained the leadership of the bank had changed since the deal was first agreed, and that the bank was no longer so keen to invest in state-owned entities. Cinecittà’s sole shareholder is the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Founded in 1937, Cinecittà has 19 sound stages and is Italy’s biggest facility. In 2021, Cinecittà secured a €300 million loan provided by the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery fund (Pnrr) to revitalise and expand the studios.

Cinecittà originally planned to invest part of the money on five new studios within its existing site, as well as adding another eight studios on the CDP land next to the studios.

Cinecittà will now focus on building the five new studios within its site, taking its total studio footprint to 24. It will also refurbish a number of its existing studios.

Sbargia, who is also president of Italy’s Audiovisual Producers Association (APA), said the decision not to expand the studios had nothing to do with signs of a slowdown in international production in recent months.

She said that productions remained keen to film in Italy, and pointed out that Tunisian-French producer and Eagle Pictures president Tarak Ben Ammar plans to build new production studios in Rome which he hopes to open in 2024. Sbargia said there are also plans to build another studio near Naples, while other local funds in Italy are trying to fund studios to attract productions.

Productions have flocked to Cinecittà in recent years, lured by its facilities and crews as well as by Italy’s generous tax credits which were increased from 30% to 40% following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The studios have been running at full occupancy levels. The Italian government is in the process of reforming its tax credit.

Sbargia said that Cinecittà had so far been unaffected by the US actors or writers’ strikes, as most of the productions shooting at the studios are either Italian or European.

The studio is currently hosting Roland Emmerich’s gladiator series Those About To Die for Peacock which has a predominantly Italian and European cast, Luca Guadagnino’s Fremantle- backed adaptation of William S. Burroughs’ Queer, starring Daniel Craig, and Joe Wright’s Mussolini series M which is being produced by Sky Studios and Fremantle-backed company The Apartment in collaboration with Pathé.