×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rome’s Cinecitta Studios Lures ‘Ben Hur’ Redo And Other Hollywood Pics

24th James Bond Film and Ben Stiller-directed "Zoolander 2" among other pics set to shoot in Rome

ROME – Rome’s Cinecitta Studios is boasting a burst of biz prompted by tax incentives which are luring back Hollywood majors, including Paramount and MGM with their “Ben Hur” remake more than five decades after the Charlton Heston original shot at the famed facilities.

A portion of the upcoming 24th James Bond film is also among high-profile pics scheduled to shoot in Rome early next year.

Cameras are set to roll at Cinecitta starting in February 2015 on MGM and Paramount’s “Ben Hur” redo, to be helmed by Timur Bekmambetov with Jack Huston in the title role, according to a Cinecitta statement. Production designer Naomi Shohan will be reconstructing pre-Roman empire Jerusalem on the Cinecitta backlot for a planned four-month shoot. Toby Kebbell is set for the role of Messala and Morgan Freeman is also attached. The script was co-written by Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” scribe John Ridley and Keith Clarke, who sold the original spec to MGM.

MGM’s 24th James Bond film is instead expected in Rome between February and March 2015 with reported plans for high-speed car chases down the Eternal City’s narrow cobble-lines streets, and Bond parachuting down onto the ancient Ponte Sisto bridge on the Tiber.

Cinecitta also says Paramount’s “Zoolander 2” is prepping to shoot on its historic backlot next year. Penelope Cruz has reportedly joined the cast of the buzz comedy alongside Ben Stiller who will also direct from a Justin Theroux script. Stiller has been in Rome scouting locations and going to parties including a bash thrown by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox for its Sky Arte channel.

There are two U.S. pics currently at Cinecitta. One is “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,” based on Anne Rice’s eponymous best-selling novel about young Jesus as he comes to discover his real identity. Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, who directed and wrote “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” the religious epic is based at Cinecitta and on location in Matera, Italy, where Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” was shot. Focus Features has slotted an Easter 20126 release. The other is U.S. indie thriller “Voice From the Stone,” starring Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) produced Zanuck Independent and Code 39 Films and helmed by first-timer Eric D. Howell.

Until recently the historic studios known as Hollywood on the Tiber in their 1960′s heyday had been languishing, with production levels plummeting since the 1990′s and workers protesting against layoffs.

But the massive 100-acre facility once considered Europe’s largest is now reaping the rewards of generous 25% tax break for foreign film shoots, the cap on which was crucially raised to Euros 10 million ($12.4 million) earlier this year.

“We waited a long time for our incentives to be tailored to the needs of international productions,” said Cinecitta Studios general director Giuseppe Basso. “As soon as this happened some very important projects signed on, confirming that Rome and Italy can still be competitive internationally in a sector that has always been considered strategic,” he enthused.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini over the weekend hailed Cinecitta’s “extraordinary comeback” claiming that having the U.S. majors back will bring a windfall of Euros 150 million ($186 million) in investments.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content