Hollywood productions to get 25% break

ROME — New Italian tax credits that will offer Hollywood productions filming in Italy up to 25% of a pic’s budget, capped at $6.5 million, have now become available after clearing their final government hurdle.

The incentives are expected to pump as much as $350 million into the local industry annually and lure back foreign productions to Rome’s Cinecitta Studios, where business has been dwindling.

“The exchange rate and a lack of incentives has reduced the number of foreign productions coming to Italy,” said Cinecitta Studios general manager Lamberto Mancini in a statement. “We believe that this new incentive and a stronger dollar will bring them back again.”

The tax credits, which apply to local and international productions shooting in Italy, have been structured as an immediate return, rather than a rebate, on production expenses, provided they do not exceed 60% of a film’s overall budget.

The incentives for foreign productions are payable through an Italian executive producer.

They are effective until 2010, when the new legislation will require another round of approval from the Italian parliament.

Cinecitta, which has just opened an outpost in Morocco, has three state-of-the art facilities in and around Rome for a total of 30 stages and some 300 acres of backlots. International productions it has attracted in recent years include HBO’s “Rome,” Spike Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna” and Rob Marshall’s “Nine.”

Other local production hotspots include Turin and the surrounding Piedmont region, which recently set up a film fund with L.A.-based Endgame Entertainment, and the southern Campania region, where Sony’s “Angels and Demons” shot last year following a stint in Rome.

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