Disputed revamp will go ahead, Haggis pic due to start
ROME — A three-month strike at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios ended Friday, just in time to accommodate the shoot of helmer Paul Haggis’ romantic drama “Third Person.”The standoff over a $200 million revamp devised by Cinecitta’s management and fought fiercely by most workers at Italy’s top production complex started in July. It made international headlines amid fears that the addition of a hotel and wellness center amounted to a de-facto dismantling of the historic facilities, once known as Hollywood on the Tiber. Cinecittà Studios prexy Luigi Abete, after meeting with union reps, announced that the makeover plan will go forward, starting with a state-of-the-art 13,000 sq ft soundstage, touted as a modernized version of the legendary Studio 5 where Federico Fellini used to shoot. Plan also comprises office space for production companies. Abete, who during the strike frequently lashed out against the widespread “misconception” that Cinecitta’s backlot was being sold off as real estate, is negotiating with unions, offering assurances that there will be no layoffs as long as some staff can be redeployed. Long-gestating deals have now been sealed with Hollywood-based Deluxe for post-production services and with Panavision for camera equipment, involving some Cinecittà staff transfers to these companies, Abete said. Cinecittà has long been trying to upgrade services to attract more foreign shoots looking to capitalize on Italy’s generous 25% tax break, capped at $7 million. Haggis’ “Third Person,” starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Casey Affleck and Olivia Wilde, is scheduled to start shooting in Rome Oct.17, produced by Belgium’s Corsan. Pic is set in Rome, Paris and New York, which will be reconstructed at Cinecittà.