Move completes privatization of studio

Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi-led government is selling off its stake in Rome’s Cinecitta Studios, completing the privatization of the historic facilities and ending an era in Italo film.

The Ministry of Culture’s general director for cinema, Gaetano Blandini, who this year was entrusted with restructuring the studios’ money-losing parent company, Cinecitta Holding, has put its 24% stake up for auction, with offers from outside Italy welcome.

The complex was founded by Italy’s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in 1937 and was known as Hollywood on the Tiber in its 1950s heyday when “Ben-Hur” and “Quo Vadis” were shot there. It spreads out over 2.1 million square feet and comprises 22 soundstages, including the legendary Studio 5 where Federico Fellini worked.

The latest Hollywood production to use Cinecitta’s backlot was HBO’s “Rome” skein, which shut down its massive ancient Rome set last year. Since then, foreign films shot at the studios include Abel Ferrara’s “Go Go Tales” and interiors for Spike Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna.”

Cinecitta Studios, used by several Berlusconi-produced TV shows including “Big Brother,” is owned by a consortium that includes producer Aurelio De Laurentiis, Italian Entertainment Group and fashion mogul Diego Della Valle as well as the Italian government.

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