Parretti, al-Waleed said to be among investors

ROME — Plans are moving ahead for the construction of Roma Vetus, the sprawling recreation of Ancient Rome announced late last year, which will serve as both a theme park and a permanent location for film and television shoots.

Figures published in Italian financial daily Il Sole indicate the project will involve an initial investment of $265 million, with total expenditures estimated to reach $706 million.

Names of investors from media and entertainment companies are expected to be disclosed following a Sept. 10 shareholders’ meeting to appoint a new board and vote on increasing capital to as much as $118 million.

While the sources of financial backing are being kept under wraps for now, unsubstantiated rumors have indicated former MGM honcho Giancarlo Parretti and Saudi multi-billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal to be among principal investors in the project, which is controlled by a Luxembourg-based holding company.

The current advisory board for the project includes financial bank Rothschild & Sons, American Appraisal, Tarak Ben Ammar of Kingdom Entertainment and special effects wizard Carlo Rambaldi, who is involved in creating effects for the park’s gladiator spectacles.

The site for the park is at Castel Giorgio, near Orvieto, midway between Rome and Florence.

The park will contain fiberglass reproductions of Imperial Rome’s best-known landmarks at 70% of their original size. Facilities for equestrian and aquatic events also will be constructed, along with on-site hotels.

Roma Vetus is scheduled to open in 2000, taki,ng advantage of the major increase expected in visitors for the Holy Year Jubilee celebrations.

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