Proposed concert follows decision to ban filming of Ben Hur in ancient site
Rome is reportedly holding talks to allow British band Coldplay to stage a concert in the Circus Maximus in summer 2016, according to reports by Italian news agency ANSA.
The concert proposal comes hot on the heels of the decision by Italy's archeological authorities to refuse permission for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to film Ben Hur in the Circus Maximus, despite strong support from the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino.
The chariot scenes from the movie, a remake of the blockbuster 1959 film starring Charlton Heston, are now being filmed in Rome's Cinecittà studios instead, much to the chagrin of Marino who described it as a missed opportunity.
If it goes ahead, the Coldplay concert would seek to replicate the success of the Rolling Stones concert staged in the Circus Maximus in June last year. The veteran British band performed in front of 70,000 fans, most of whom travelled from abroad, but when it was revealed that the multi-millionaire rockers paid the city a rental fee of just €7,934, Marino came in for heavy criticism. The mayor responded by changing the rules, allowing the city to charge a maximum of €200,000 to rent out the space in the future.
The Rolling Stones concert was criticised at the time by the city's archaeological superintendent Mariarosaria Barbera who expressed fears of "serious damage" to the ancient site. In the end, no damage was reported and Marino claimed that the concert earned the city €25 million.
The mayor is keen to use Rome as a giant film set, and there are a number of high-profile movies being filmed in the capital at the moment. In addition to Ben Hur, which stars Morgan Freeman and Jack Huston, Rome made international headlines recently with the filming of the 24th James Bond film, Spectre, starring Daniel Craig. The movie resulted in multiple street closures but its producers were praised by Romans for repairing roads, planting trees and feeding the homeless, with some even joking that 007 should replace Marino as mayor.
However the Bond film has not been without its controversies and setbacks, including Craig bumping his head after his speeding Aston Martin hit a pothole, and the city banning a car chase from being filmed near the newly-restored Quattro Fontane.
Production of Zoolander 2, featuring top American comedy actors Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell, is also beginning at Rome's Cinecittà studios at this time.