Ente draws Italo ire over Cinecitta ownership plan

MILAN – Italy’s state-owned film group Ente Cinema is drawing fire from the pic industry after proposing a new roster of shareholders and reaching an agreement with a consortium led by Time Warner to build and run a 5,000-seat multiplex at its Cinecitta studios in Rome.

The moves were announced by the group’s board Saturday, just days before a new board is to be installed. Critics said the new owners are too heavily weighted toward the TV industry, and that the theater complex should not be built and run by foreign interests.

Under the plan, which is subject to approval by the Ministry of Treasury, pubcaster RAI (20%) and Silvio Berlusconi’s TV group Mediaset, will each take a 20% stake in Cinecitta Servizi. Britain’s Rank Group will also take a 20% stake, while producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori’s Fin.Ma.Vi will hold 10%. A consortium of Italo indie film producers, including Franco Committeri and Fulvio Lucisano, will also hold a 10% stake. Ente Cinema will retain a 20% stake.

“In the new Cinecitta, 50% of the shares will be in the hands of groups with predominant interests in TV,” Giovanni Arnone, president of Italy’s Assn. of Film Directors, said. “Cinecitta’s film vocation will no longer be respected.”

Producer Fulvio Lucisano, who with Aurelio De Laurentiis put in a losing bid for the multiplex contract, said he was outraged.

“For the first time, with the approval of the government, the American flag has been planted in Cinecitta,” he said. “Not even during the war did this happen.”

Gianni Massaro, president of the Audiovisual Industries Committee of the European Union, also chimed in with disapproval. “The decision is irresponsible because it shows a dramatic lack of concern for Italian and European cinema.”

The board also named film director Gillo Fontecorvo as Ente Cinema president.

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