Part of the legendary movie studios where sand-and-sandals film classics like ‘Ben-Hur’ were filmed has gone up in flames after an inferno destroyed a giant movie set.
Fired erupted at Rome’s iconic Cinecitta studios shortly after 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 1, when a set based on Renaissance era Florence went ablaze.
Netflix’s production of ‘Old Guard 2’ — the sequel to ‘Old Guard’ starring Charlize Theron — was briefly disrupted.
At least two days of filming of the Netflix production were lost.
The fire was so massive that a column of black smoke could clearly be seen from miles away, and some nearby roads had to be closed to traffic.
Three firefighter teams battled the flames to prevent them from spreading to neighboring sets.
The blaze was 90 percent extinguished by 5:30 p.m. on the day of the fire and was completely extinguished shortly afterward.
No one was reported to have been injured.
There were fears that the set of the Italian Big Brother house might have been destroyed in the blaze, but it was quickly found to be intact.
Studios spokesman Marlon Pellegrini said in a statement that there had been “no serious material damage” at the Big Brother house set.
“The fire has been extinguished. There are no injuries, no poisoning, no serious material damage,” said Pellegrini in a statement.
The cause of the fire is now being investigated.
It is not yet known what sparked the blaze, but the working hypothesis is that it was an accident.
The studios had previously fallen victim to fires in 2007 and 2012. The 2007 blaze destroyed sets HBO-BBC drama ‘Rome.’
Cinecitta Studios – originally built to film propaganda movies for Fascist leader Benito Mussolini in 1937 – is considered the hub of Italian cinema and has been dubbed ‘Hollywood on the Tiber.’
More than 3,000 films have been made there, including Federico Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’. and Paul Sorrentino’s ‘Young Pope.’
More recently, Cinecitta has hosted Anthony Minghella’s ‘The English Patient,’ Martin Scorsese’s ‘Gangs of New York,’ and Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ.’
Tax incentives provided by Italy encouraged new productions at the facility, which has experienced its own renaissance.
The threat of fires has been acute in much of Europe this summer, which has seen record-breaking temperatures. The thermometer is expected to reach 104 Fahrenheit in Rome this week.
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