French culture minister woos Hollywood studios

4th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

France is making a push this week to reel in blockbuster movie productions, pitching a new tax rebate for foreign productions to the heads of Hollywood studios.

Eyeing dollar signs and publicity, countries around the globe are keen to attract big budget films to their patch -- and competition is fierce.

"The financial stakes are high since there is a direct and an indirect impact ... for every euro spent on a shoot, three euros go toward social security, VAT (value-added tax) and so on," French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin told AFP in an interview.

"But beyond that, scenes shot in France will make people want to come see these landscapes and that has an impact on the local economy," she added.

On January 1, France raised its tax rebate for international productions from 20 to 30 percent. It is now also available for big movie projects -- not just ones with budgets of up to $4 million.

"We had some interesting tax credits for medium-sized productions," Pellerin said, adding that she would "now also like to attract shoots with budgets of $80 million to $100 million."

The new incentive already seems to have garnered some positive reactions from possible contenders.

"I just met with Lionsgate who told me that the tax credit hike was very interesting," Pellerin said of one studio.

Pellerin said that France had a higher tax rebate scheme than London's 25 percent and that it was now more competitive than Belgium and Luxembourg.

Certain Eastern European countries, however, do better in the sense that they do not have a tax rebate ceiling. France's ceiling is 30 million euros.

With its move, Paris hopes to reverse a worrying development -- while the production of French feature films reached a record 189 last year, it came with the exodus of 36 percent of shoots, particularly big budget ones.

Pellerin said the effect of the hike was "already being felt."

"Some directors were going to shoot abroad and are now going to do so in France," she said.

"Among American studios, there are decisions on shooting that will be taken and could be now be done in France," she added.

This year, acclaimed director Christopher Nolan of "The Dark Knight" fame is to film parts of his World War II film "Dunkirk" in northern France.

And according to Variety, the film industry's magazine of reference, Neil Jordan, who won an Oscar for "The Crying Game," will shoot the crime series "Riviera" in the south of France.

Competition for film shoots is also fierce within the United States.

Last year, California boosted its tax incentives in an attempt to make Los Angeles more attractive following a 20-year decline in film shootings in the face of competition from foreign locales or US destinations such as Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico and New York.

Still, despite the tax breaks, shootings stagnated in Los Angeles last year.

During her US trip, Pellerin will also be meeting "streaming" giants Netflix and Amazon.


© 2016 AFP

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