- Studio complex. Housing 16 well-equipped studios spread over an area of 400,000 square meters, Cinecitta, or Cinema City, remains the largest and most important film production facility in Italy. Ostensibly built by the owner of the Cines, Carlo Roncoroni, as a replacement for the studios in Via Veio that had mysteriously burned down in 1935, the project was largely financed by the Fascist government and officially opened by Benito Mussolini on 28 April 1937 as a sign of state support for the languishing film industry. Originally run privately, the complex was resumed by the state in 1939 under the directorship of Luigi Freddi. As expected, the new facility dramatically raised national production, leading to 300 films being made there before the later part of 1943 when, following Italy's declaration of the armistice, the studios were ransacked by retreating Fascist troops with the intention of setting up a cinevillaggio (film village) in Venice. Many of the films produced at Cinecitta during the Fascist period were undoubtedly light comedies in the so-called white telephone mode, but films like Alessandro Blasetti's Quattro passi fra le nuvole (A Stroll through the Clouds, 1942) and Luchino Visconti's Ossessione (Obsession, 1943), both regarded as forerunners of neorealism, were also made with the studio's facilities.The war took its toll on the complex, which was significantly damaged by Allied bombing, and after liberation the studios came to be used as a refugee camp by the Allies. By the early 1950s, however, the studios had been completely restored and both established directors like De Sica and Rossellini and up-and-coming directors like Antonioni and Fellini began to make extensive use of its facilities. Taking advantage of an Italian law that obliged foreign film companies to reinvest a portion of their profits in Italy, many American majors also began to produce some of their big-budget spectacles at Cinecitta, thus earning it, for a period, the epithet of Hollywood on the Tiber.By the late 1970s, however, as a result of a general downturn in the film industry, production at Cinecitta fell alarmingly, leading to rumors of a closure. Fortunately, a reprieve appeared with an increase in production for television, which helped to financially support the complex through the 1980s. In the early 1990s a concerted attempt was made to to revive the flagging fortunes of the studios with the establishment of the state-owned company Cinecitta International, which was meant to promote Italian films in the international market. Nevertheless, the company continued to lose money and so was liquidated in 1996. Two years later Cinecitta itself was privatized but with a majority share reserved for the newly established Cinecitta Holding, a company under the direct control of the Treasury (reassigned a year later to the Ministry for Culture).Adventurous and well-managed, the new company has been extremely successful in not only stimulating productive use of the studios but also in diversifying its products and services. Its latest initiatives have been the high-tech facility Cinecitta Digital, housed at Cinecitta itself, and Cinecitta Entertainment, an efficient distribution, exhibition, and services company.
Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.