The new park opens today, but criticism that surrounded it since it was announced does not stop. An interesting article by the Italian reporter for the New York Times, Elisabetta Povoledo argues that it is above all an investment in fantasy to save a fraying reality.
Investment in the theme park by IEG – Italian Entertainment Group has been around 250 million Euros. True, there are many examples of successful similar theme parks worldwide, from Universal Studios Florida in Orlando to the Movie Park Germany, but Italian film industry has been particularly struggling in the latest years: labor unions, for instance, have complained that “the investment in the theme park far outpaces the $67.6 million that IEG and its subsidiaries have invested in the Studios since they were privatized in 1997“. The company also plans to invest another $338 million to expand the park with a nature reserve and wellness center, Mr. Abete said.
According to some the shareholders are only trying to exploit the Cinecittà brand, to squeeze its value without reinvesting in needed production facilities and specialized workforce: there have been a lot of layoffs this year in the industry and protests and picketing continue. In the last six years, only 50 films were made at Cinecittà Studios. In addition, the last three years have also posted budget deficits, on average about $6.8 million a year. “Today they mostly shoot commercials and television there,” the actor and director Christian De Sica.
In an attempt to reinvigorate film production and make it competitive with German and British studios, the government this year has allotted higher tax credits for foreign companies to shoot in Italy. On its side, IEG has also promised a $40.6 million investment in the studios. The director Paul Haggis, who shot Third Person at Cinecittà 18 months ago, said that despite he would rank the crews among the best in the world and it remains a magical place to shoot a movie, the “studio itself is in need of investment and some of the basic facilities, like production offices and the toilets for the crews, need upgrading.”
We all may only wish that the hype and headlines will bring tons of visitors to the park, that Cinecittà Studios will shine again out loud by reflected light provided by fresh financial resources coming from Cinecittà World. Hopefully, this is going to be a smart commercial move, and will not come out as mere free riding on Cinecittà brand strength.