Court declares 'Ocean' producer bankrupt

AMSTERDAM — An Amsterdam court has declared Ocean Warrior, the production company behind the costly “Ocean Warrior” project, bankrupt.

At $56 million, pic about environmental activist and Greenpeace founder Paul Watson was the biggest-budget project to come out of the Dutch tax incentive scheme since its inception several years ago.

All work on “Ocean Warrior” was stopped in early February when an initial $15 million raised by private investors under the tax scheme ran out.

Since that time, producer Bous de Jong had promised creditors as well as some of Holland’s top talent in the cast and crew that coin would be provided and production on the film would continue. The court in its ruling Wednesday said it was clear no money would be forthcoming.

“What happened here is pure amateurism, but it is amateurism on a grand scale and it has hurt the credibility of the tax scheme as well as the Dutch film industry,” said Jetse Sprey, one of the attorneys representing some 40 creditors. “It will be more difficult in the future to bring in film investors.”

Words of caution

He cautions against painting the tax break plan with a broad brush, however. “There have been films finished under this scheme. They have not gone bankrupt.”

Among the companies expected to be named as having some liability for the losses are MPC Capitol, a subsid of the German investment company. MPC brought investors into the project and began releasing funds “when it knew there was not enough money to complete the project,” said Sprey.

The news for the Dutch film industry has not been all bad, however.

The European Commission said last week that a transition regulation allowing the tax incentive scheme to go forward under stricter regulations was in compliance with EC regulations. Some projects had been put on the back burner while waiting for the EC to hand down a ruling on the matter.

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