Magazine article Variety

Cite Incites le Grand Surge

Magazine article Variety

Cite Incites le Grand Surge

Article excerpt

New studio, higher rebates boost production

HOW TO SHOOT A FILM IN FRANCE

France is coming offa year overshadowed by a lack of big-budget U.S. shoots. Despite this drought, Gallic player Luc Besson has managed to feed the pipeline of his 9-month-old brainchild, the Cite du Cinema studio complex outside Paris, with two major movies from his own film factory EuropaCorp: Malavita, a crime thriller toplining Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, which he helmed; and the McG-directed The Days to Kill, toplining Kevin Costner and Amber Heard.

Along with these, Cite hosted Fred Cavaye's action-packed thriller Mea Culpa, produced by LGM and Gaumont; and Sony Pictures Animation's live-action/CGI hybrid Smurfs 2.

The studio, which is co-owned by facilities provider Euro Media France and operated by subsid TYanspamedia, has a lot going for it: top-notched infrastructure and services, a convenient location (a few miles from Charles de Gaulle airport and a 10-minute drive from Paris), an on-site film school, EuropaCorp's headquarters (overseen by Besson and business partner Christophe Lambert) and the offices of various indie producers.

LGM shot 80% of Cavaye's action-packed Mea Culpa at the Cite, where it recreated a high-speed train carriage inside the studios, says Jean-Baptiste Dupont, LGM co-prexy.

"The Cite du Cinema has a double advantage," says David Giordano, LGM exec producer. "It's the first studio that's accessible by subway from Paris' city center and it's run by film industry folks."

He adds that the Ile de France region (comprising Paris and its suburbs) only has two other major studios - Bry-sur-Marne and Epinay - and both are located much farther from the capital.

The question of the day, however, is whether Gaul and its mega-studio complex will be able to catch up to its European rivals, notably the U.K.'s Pinewood and Germany's Babelsberg, as they all chase big U.S. productions.

The answer really depends on a number of factors.

Gaul's tax rebate for international productions, which is capped at $5 million, now looks set to rise to a maximum $13 million, and to include hotel expenses. That itself will put Gaul on an equal footing with the U.K. and Germany.

The European Commission is expected to give its seal of approval in the coming months, and foreign productions that have been hosted in Gaul since the beginning of the year will be eligible for the rebate, according to Olivier-Rene Veillon, managing director at the Ile de France Film Commission. …

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