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Cinecittà Chief Nicola Maccanico on Turning a Profit Despite Hollywood Strikes and Prospects for Italy’s New Tax Rebates (EXCLUSIVE)


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Italy’s Cinecittà Studios, which have been undergoing a radical overhaul since 2021, recently released their fiscal 2023 results, which saw the Rome-based facilities turn a profit for the second year in a row after bleeding red ink for years.

The iconic studios are being managed by Nicola Maccanico, a former Warner Bros. and Sky Italia senior exec who last year lured big shoots such as Roland Emmerich’s gladiator series “Those About to Die” starring Anthony Hopkins and Netflix’s period soap “The Decameron” to the government-run “City of Cinema.” Last year, the studios were able to maintain a 70% occupancy level despite the impact of the Hollywood strikes and are on track to keep that level this year with several big Hollywood shoots coming soon, though NDAs are keeping details under wraps.

Below, Maccanico speaks to Variety about how he’s navigating Cinecittà’s revamp and what the prospects are going forward.

The studios’ profit margin is on a par with last year. Where is the growth?

We managed to grow 20% in terms of turnover [that in 2023 was €46.8 ($50.5 million)], which then generated the €1.8 million profit in a year marked by the writers’ and actors’ strikes in the United States. That, in my opinion, is an unequivocal confirmation of Cinecittà’s new positioning. While in 2022 lots of great things happened that could have been considered a one-off, in 2023 we confirmed, under very different circumstances, that Cinecittà is now a well-established player in the global market. The studios are now able to land productions of different sizes with continuity. Cinecittà, thanks to its refurbished facilities and services, can systematically attract large national and international productions again. We’ve made sure that this now publicly-owned company is standing on its own two feet. The fiscal 2023 results are a full-fledged confirmation of this and now we can grow further thanks to investments linked to the PNR [EU Pandemic Recovery Fund] with even greater confidence because it’s clear at this point that we need more soundstage space and more services.

How are the new soundstages coming along?

The first news on the horizon, linked to the fiscal 2023 results, is that having reached our 2023 target, we are now building new theaters. So the PNR funding is turning into reality. The investment plan has become operational and the planned construction sites are now active. In other words, in June 2023, having hit our growth target – which in turn activated financing – we launched tenders to build new facilities, and since March 2023 we have opened nine construction sites. By 2026, we will have five new soundstages and an added 12,000 square meters (129,000 square feet) of production capacity. This will allow Cinecittà to take a leap forward and lock in more international partnerships.

Close to half of Cinecittà’s turnover is generated by the studios’ art and production design department. What’s your take on that?

During the first year of the studios’ re-launch, the art and set construction department generated about €2.5 million. Then last year, they reached revenues of almost €19 million, and this year they made more than €22 million. That’s an almost tenfold growth. So it’s clear that the occupancy of our soundstages is largely linked to the quality of the production services we offer, and the Cinecittà art department really stands out thanks to our in-house staff and our many partners. I also want to point out that our new LED wall in Theater 18 has become a fundamental asset for Cinecittà because it puts us at the technological forefront. Since we inaugurated it in June 2022, it’s been occupied for more than 300 days by directors including Roland Emmerich, Joe Wright, Angelina Jolie and young Italian auteur Pietro Castellitto. This stands as testimony to the fact that this is a tool that’s available to everyone and, just as importantly, can generate enormous value for a film studio.

There’s some concern in the Italian industry that the government could modify the country’s tax credits for film and TV production in damaging ways. What’s your take?

The tax credit has been a key tool for Cinecittà’s success. More broadly, fiscal incentives are absolutely decisive tools in the global competition among film studios. The government is fully aware of this and has an interest in helping to foster the industry’s next steps. So they are making some changes to correct some distortions, but these changes will make the tax credit tool stronger.

I know you don’t have a crystal ball, but when do you think Italy’s new tax credit will be operational?

Spring would be a very good time to see this happen.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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