Cinecitta expands biz roots

Gotham, U.K. digs join L.A. arm as int'l reach broadens

ROME — After a string of U.S. productions, Rome’s Cinecitta Studios intends to pursue more foreign helmers by opening offices in New York and London.

Cinecitta’s international marketing director, Carole Andre-Smith, said the London base will be up and running by the end of summer; the New York office opened in April under Debbie Brenner. Peter Wetherell has manned an L.A. site for more than a year.

Brenner, former marketing director for Quantel, will focus on bringing the attention of Cinecitta’s facilities to commercial and independent helmers.

“We are trying to change the culture of what Cinecitta was as a state-owned company,” Andre-Smith said. “We want our reps to be in the same time zone, have the same accent as producers who want to work with us. I think this raises producers’ comfort level rather than talking overseas to someone they never see.”

The decision follows a renewed interest in the studios from Martin Scorsese, Mel Gibson and Paul Schrader, whose “Exorcist: The Beginning” was filmed at the studios. Its f/x are being handled by Cinecitta Digital.

“The offices in the three cities are going to be very different,” said Andre-Smith, specifying that New York will target post-production, which she claimed can be done more cheaply in Rome.

In other expansion moves, Cinecitta plans to have an entertainment channel on Rupert Murdoch’s new paybox, Sky Italia, not yet on air. It also is developing a European cinema city, a theme park based on the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in L.A.

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