Rome, July 10 - A select group of visitors got a sneak peek on Thursday at a new theme park dedicated entirely to cinema just outside Rome.
Cinecittà World - named after the film studios on Rome's Via Tuscolana that have seen numerous award-winning Italian and international productions and was closely associated with federico Fellini - in Castel Romano on the southern outskirs of the capital opened for a preview ahead of its formal launch on July 24.
The 250 million euro theme park is the first of its kind in Italy and is expected to draw up to 1.5 million visitors in 2015 with an estimated turnover of 55 million euros.
It contains 20 attractions designed by multiple Oscar-winning Italian production designer Dante Ferretti and there are also four themed restaurants, eight film sets and four theatres.
The ambient music is by the prolific Italian composer Ennio Morricone, winner of the Honorary Academy Award for career achievement in 2007 and to whom the theme park's Westerns section is dedicated. Cinecittà World is a project of Italian Entertainment Group (IEG), the holding company that also controls the Cinecittà film studios in Rome.
The main shareholders are BNL bank chairman Luigi Abete, who chairs IEG, brothers Andrea and Diego Della Valle of shoe manufacturer Tod's fame and film producers Aurelio and Luigi De Laurentiis. The project was conceived in 2003 but quickly ran into delays. Construction and outfitting have taken three years.
"Italy has two motorways to development," IEG chairman Abete said.
"The first, leading out of the country, is the internationalisation of Made in Italy; the second is the reception of global citizens in Italy, of those who come to enjoy the Italian quality of life and quality entertainment. We have invested in this development motorway," the IEG chief said.
"This country makes little investment and creates little employment," continued Abete, adding that IEG would invest a further 250 million euros in the project to create a total of 2,500 new jobs.
"Cinecittà Word will give Rome a greater draw for tourists, like Disneyland in Paris," he said.
With regards to quality we are second to none," he concluded. The theme park will be open daily from 10 am to 11 pm seven days a week for over 260 days a year.
Entry will cost 29 euros per day, or 23 euros for children up to 10 years and adults over 65. There will also be a family ticket giving entry to two adults and two children for the 'discount' price of 95 euros. Cinecitta', a Mussolini-era construct like the Venice Film Festival, the world's oldest, are still the biggest studios in Europe although in recent years the sets have played host to more TV features and serials than films, partly because of big fires in 2007 and 2012. Many of the worlds created at Cinecittà have become part of film-making history since the Studios opened its doors in 1937.
Oscar-winning director Federico Fellini, for whom Cinecittà was a second home, said the Studios represented his "ideal world, the cosmic space before the Big Bang".
Cinecittà largely owes its success to its legendary craftsmen, who earned a world-wide reputation in the 1950s, with their meticulous re-creating of ancient Rome for Mervyn LeRoy's Quo Vadis and William Wyler's Ben Hur.
In more recent times, this reputation has been cemented by films like Martin Scorsese's 19th century epic of battles between US Nativists and Irish immigrants, Gangs of New York.
Mel Gibson also chose Cinecittà to film part of The Passion of the Christ and Terry Gilliam came here to re-create the fantasy world for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
After the Second World War, when the Studios re-opened, their world-class facilities were a magnet for Italian directors.
From the early 1950s they were joined by many American filmmakers, attracted by the Studios' reputation for creative and technical talent and Italy's low production costs.
The next 15 years saw cinema history made here: from Cleopatra and The Quiet American by Joseph L. Mankiewicz to Helen of Troy by Robert Wise, War and Peace by King Vidor and Roman Holiday by William Wyler, starring Audrey Hepburn in her Ocar-winning performance as an incognito princess escorted for a day in Rome by journalist Gregory Peck.
A total of 48 films partially or wholly shot here have received Academy Awards, with 83 nominations overall. Many were collected by Fellini, who shot virtually all his productions on the lot, including La Dolce Vita, Satyricon and Amarcord.
Other renowned Italian directors like Michelangelo Antonioni, Luchino Visconti, Ettore Scola, Franco Zeffirelli, Pier Paolo Pasoliniçand Vittorio De Sica also filmed here, alongside Sergio Leone who came to Cinecittà to make spaghetti westerns like For a Few Dollars More and Once Upon a Time in the West.
Facilities and equipment were updated in the 1980s, along with the creation of a new Cinecittà Digital centre.
Television shows and commercials entered alongside film production and then in the 1990s, the operation was turned from a public institution into a private company owned by eight partners (Cinecittà Holding, Aurelio De Laurentiis, Vittorio Merloni, Diego della Valle, Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Robert Haggiag, EfiBanca and the Istituto Luce).
Cinecittà currently boasts four production centres, more than 30 sound stages - including the famous Teatro 5, Europe's largest, so beloved by Fellini - an outdoor tank of almost 70,000 sq feet, a 25-acre back lot, carpentry and set production departments, a digital centre, post production facilities, film processing workshops, edit suites, 280 dressing rooms/offices, 21 make-up rooms, 82 prop warehouses the list is almost endless.
A cult American director now living in Rome and using the Studios, Abel Ferrara, recently told ANSA: "The history of the cinema is there at Cinecittà, you'd have to be a mummy not to feel those ghosts of the past. "This is a place where they make great films and they respect the filmmaker".