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Cinecitta plans $200 million revamp

New state-of-the art soundstage, hotel, office space to be added

Looking to lure more international shoots, Rome’s Cinecitta Studios has unveiled plans for a $200 million revamp that will include a state-of-the art soundstage, a hotel and industry office space.

More than a decade after being privatized, Italy’s leading production complex is forging ahead with the makeover despite uncertainty surrounding the country’s recently introduced tax incentives for international productions.

These tax credits, considered crucial for Cinecitta in the face of growing competition from facilities in Eastern Europe, were placed on hold last month by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government.

“We need to modernize,” said Cinecitta Studios prexy Luigi Abete, announcing his plan for construction of a 13,000-sq.ft. soundstage — the same size as Cinecitta’s legendary Studio 5 where Federico Fellini worked — as well as a 200-room hotel and wellness center on the lot by 2013.

“We will never be able to compete with Eastern Europe in terms of costs, so we will have to make up the difference with the quality of services,” he added.

Cinecitta also plans to build a multimedia district for 150 to 200 film and TV-related companies and labs on its vast backlot, much of which is abandoned.

Cinecitta presently has 22 soundstages, some dating to 1937 when the massive studio was inaugurated by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

These days some of the facilities are used for TV shows, including the Italian edition of “Big Brother,” but movies still account for a substantial portion of Cinecitta biz.

Recent Hollywood pics that have shot at Cinecitta include the Weinstein Co.’s “Nine.” Sony’s “The Tourist” shot on location in Venice, but used Cinecitta’s services.

“The Tourist” was among the first pics to tap into Italy’s 25% tax break, capped at $7 million, which has helped attract overseas productions since early 2009.

Cinecitta Studios managing director Lamberto Mancini said he was confident the production incentives would be back in place by January.

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