Benigni sells studio stake to Cinecitta

Agreement is part of studio's expansion plan

ROME — Helmer Roberto Benigni has sold a 60% interest in his Papigno production facility to Rome’s historic Cinecitta Studios.

Located in Terni, in the Umbria region north of Rome, Papigno is a former steel mill converted by Benigni and his wife, Nicoletta Braschi, into a state-of-the art studio facility with five soundstages and full service, including carpentry, costumes, catering and casting.

Cinecitta Studios prexy Luigi Abete would not disclose financial details of the deal.

The agreement is part of Cinecitta’s expansion plan: It also recently acquired Roma Studios, its rival in the Italian capital.

“It is essential for us that Roberto and Nicoletta remain involved in Papigno. Their names represent a huge added value,” Abete said.

Benigni filmed “Life Is Beautiful” and “Pinocchio” at Papigno and now is working on “The Tiger and the Snow” there. Papigno also hosted Mediaset TV series “Carabinieri.”

Cinecitta, which has 22 soundstages, is attracting an increasing number of Hollywood productions, most recently Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” and HBO’s “Rome,” which is occupying most of its back lot.

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