Magazine article Screen International

Luc Besson Officially Opens Cité Du Cinéma Complex

Magazine article Screen International

Luc Besson Officially Opens Cité Du Cinéma Complex

Article excerpt

Cinema complex on outskirts of Paris heralded as "Hollywood à la Française" has been operational since the beginning of the summer.

Luc Besson officially opened the Cité du Cinéma complex on the outskirts of Paris on Friday, a decade after he first mooted the ambitious project.

"I'm feeling rather emotional," Besson told guests at the inauguration ceremony in the vast atrium of the refurbished 1930s electricity plant around which the complex is built.

"This has been a long journey involving the support and efforts of hundreds if not thousands of people, all of whom I would like to thank," said Besson, who bought the site on which the complex is built in 2006 having used it for the shoots of The Last Combat and Léon in the 1980s and 1990s.

He said on Friday he had been prompted to spearhead the project after being forced to shoot The Fifth Element in Britain in the late 1990s because no suitable facilities existed in France.

It took Besson another four years to find finance for the project. In 2010, state investment fund La Caisse des dépôts et consignations andconstruction company Vinci boarded the project for the refurbishment of the overall site.

The nine stages of the Studios de Paris, at the heart of the cinema complex, are co-owned by Besson's holding company Frontline, EuropaCorp, the Euro Media Group and the Quinta Group of Tarak Ben Ammar, who was also present at Friday's inauguration.

The state-of-the-art studios - featuring spacious rigging systems and three-metre deep pits -- have been operational since the summer. Taken 2 passed through briefly at the beginning of the summer, followed by Smurfs 2 and French comedy Vingt ans d'ecart (It Boy).

Besson began shooting his Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer-starring mafia comedy Malavita on September 7.

Alongside the studios, the site also houses EuropaCorp's new headquarters, the prestigious Louis Lumière film school, Besson's new cinema academy and a branch of his Normandy-based, post-production facility Digital Factory.

There is also office space aimed at independent production and post-production companies. First tenants include the companies of actor-producer Jamel Debbouze and long-time Besson collaborator director-producer Ariel Zeitoun.

The key challenge facing the Studios de Paris is to attract productions from outside the EuropaCorp stable in the face of tough competition from across Europe.

The whole of the French film industry is currently lobbying the government to take the cap off local tax incentives offering a 20% rebate on certain production costs. …

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