×
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

  • Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in

    Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' for Netflix

    Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman will star in the movie adaptation of the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” for Netflix. George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues”) will direct from a script by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, based on the award-winning play by August Wilson. Other cast include Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Michael Potts. Denzel [...]

  • Crazy Bitches

    Why the CASE Act Will Empower Creatives to Fight the Horrors of Piracy

    Our horror film, “Crazy Bitches,” was released on Valentine’s Day 2015. We invested in an online marketing campaign that resulted in two times the industry clickthrough rate and 2.6M social media impressions in the week leading up to the release. So, we had reason to expect a successful return. What we didn’t count on was [...]

  • Alamo Drafthouse LA

    Alamo Drafthouse to Open in Downtown Los Angeles in July

    The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain is planning to open its first Los Angeles location with a “soft launch” in early July in the city’s downtown. The Texas-based chain, which has 38 locations, specializes food and drink service with unique programming. It announced Wednesday that the Los Angeles site, located at the Bloc, would offer an [...]

  • Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following

    Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following Sexual Assault Allegations

    Max Landis has been dropped as a client by his manager, a day after sexual assault allegations emerged against the  screenwriter. “I do not represent Max Landis,” Britton Rizzio at Writ Large Management told Variety in a statement. Landis is facing allegations of sexual abuse and psychological manipulation from eight women who told their stories [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Another Round of Layoffs Hit Disney and 20th Century Fox Film Divisions (EXCLUSIVE)

    Another round of layoffs are going down for employees merged in Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, individuals with knowledge of the company told Variety. The Wednesday reduction is the smallest round the studio has enacted since formally acquiring the film and TV assets of 20th Century in March, with a few dozen employees being [...]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Netflix Lands Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Tick, Tick... Boom!' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following a heated bidding war, Netflix has walked away with the rights to “Tick, Tick… Boom!” a musical adaptation to be directed by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sources say Andrew Garfield is the top choice to star, though no deal is done. “Dear Evan Hansen” writer Steven Levenson adapting the script based on the original [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content