France hopes for more film action with new tax break

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France is hoping for more Hollywood action at home after parliament adopted a tax break for foreign films expected to bring in ?200 million ($282 million) of fresh revenue over the next couple of years.

The new legislation, enacted overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, gives foreign filmmakers a 20 percent tax break, with a ceiling of up to ?4 million per movie, for films shot over a minimum five days in France.

The concession, however, is conditional on the films carrying in the narrative, elements attached to France s culture, heritage or land.

This measure will help the entire film sector, Franck Priot, deputy head of Film France, told AFP.

With the giant industry currently under fire from its neighbors, where tax rebates and labor costs are more conducive, the law brings France closer in line with shooting costs in Britain, Germany, Hungary and parts of Spain.

Costs in France, said Lydie Fenech, who heads a grouping of 80 movie companies in southern France, were 30 to 40 percent higher than in Montenegro.

After seeing Hollywood spend more than a quarter of a million dollars a day in 2005 when filming blockbusters like Paris-located Da Vinci Code or Mr Bean s Holiday, there were no major foreign shoots at all in France this year.

Even Quentin Tarantino decided to shoot 95 percent of a film set in wartime France in cheaper Germany.

In 2008, foreign production companies spent a mere ?3.7 million on four films in France. It was a catastrophic year, Thierry de Segonzac, who heads the Federation of Film, Audiovisual and Multimedia Industries (FICAM), told AFP.

FICAM estimates that the tax rebate will generate 480 days of foreign shoots in comparison to a current 120.

Film France, which promotes movie shoots, said it expected direct revenue from the new measure to generate ?200 million by 2010, while also helping to boost the tourist sector. -AFP

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