Here in America, we have solid theme park rides based on movies that, for the most part, make sense, like Universal Studios’ “E.T. Adventure,” or the “Wayne’s World” roller coaster “Hurler” (since sold and de-“Wayne”‘d by Paramount, but still).
But in Rome, they’re building a ride based on the Fellini film “City of Women.” Yes, in an effort to shore up tourism in the city, Cinecittà Studios is going to give us Cinecittà World — 400 acres of themed fun for the whole family, based on the many movies that have shot at the legendary studios over the year.
Since there’s some 630 titles to choose from, there’s certainly no shortage of inspiration. How about a “Cliffhanger” rock-climbing game? A “Gangs of New York” simulated gang-fight in virtual reality? An “Adventures of Baron Munchausen” ride where you rocket off to the moon? (Aren’t all Terry Gilliam movies begging to be turned into rides anyway?)
Alas, judging by what Variety‘s reporting, that’s the wrong thinking. Ladies and gentlemen: presenting the world’s first arthouse theme park. A “Ben-Hur” ride I can handle — chariots! — but another “will feature the huge slide that Marcello Mastroianni travels down as his sexual history flashes by in Fellini’s ‘City of Women.’ ” Really? Wow.
It should be noted that production designer Dante Ferretti — who worked on that and many other Fellini films — will be in charge of art design. Here’s hoping he’ll dig into his catalogue and treat the world to a “Salo” cafeteria.
But seriously, I wonder what this says about European film culture. It’s generally seemed to me an untrue stereotype that “Europeans” as some kind of monolithic entity are more fond of “serious” movies; its just that most sillier, trashier fare doesn’t get imported here. But Rome appears to be serious about their plans to beef up tourism this way, which hopefully means they know what they’re doing.
If Fellini theme park attractions really are a big pull for families, does that mean American arthouse devotees will have to begin making pilgrimages to the world’s strangest, most seemingly niche theme park? More importantly, will there be YouTube videos chronicling these rides? I can’t wait.
[Photos: “City of Women,” New Yorker Films, 1981; “Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom,” Zebra, 1975]