Woody Allen casts Benigni in next film to be shot in Rome

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In Woody Allen's next film, The Bop Decameron, currently in preproduction in Rome, the cast will be joined by Oscar winner Roberto Benigni ( Life is Beautiful) and Greta Gerwig ( No Strings Attached), the director announced on June 20.

For the first time since 2006, Allen will lead the acting ensemble, which costars Penelope Cruz ( Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strangers Tides), Jesse Eisenberg ( The Social Network), Alec Baldwin ( It's Complicated), and Ellen Page ( Inception).

Allen's current film, Midnight in Paris, has made $39.7 million worldwide, marking more than two decades since his films have earned as much, according to Box Office Mojo. In 1986, Hannah and Her Sisters grossed $40 million. This also is the widest release of any Allen movie.

The comedy is the first film Allen has directed in Rome and it features other Italian actors besides Benigni, including Antonio Albanese, Fabio Armiliata and Alessandra Mastronardi.

The Decameron by 14th century Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio was a collection of tales, reportedly told over ten days, that could thematically relate to Allen's story which he describes as "broad comedy."

Production begins on July 11 for release in 2012, in keeping with Allen's yearly film schedule.