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Malta lures Spielberg shoot

Pic is the first to draw on island's new cash rebates

MALTA — As Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” smashed box office records around the globe last week, helmer quietly started lensing his latest feature on Malta. Pic is the first to benefit from the Mediterranean island’s cash rebate scheme.

Under the scheme, which came into effect at the end of June, producers can receive a rebate of up to 20% of their expenditure on the island. Spielberg’s pic, about an Israeli hit squad sent to hunt the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich massacre, will receive a rebate from the government of Malta equivalent to 15% of its eligible spend in Malta.

The island hopes to lure more foreign productions. U.K. and German indie pics and one other Hollywood movie have applied for the rebate, although details have yet to be released.

The cash rebate is applied to all labor and services such as hotels and restaurants as well as per diems paid to foreign crews. The procedure is a simple one, according to Oliver Mallia, who helms the Malta Film Commission. “The production company submits details of its production spending in Malta to the commission and in three weeks they receive a certificate with the percentage of the rebate that will be paid,” said Mallia. “The percentage is decided on a case by case basis and depends on the multiplier effect of the production’s spending on the Maltese economy as well as several other factors.”

Malta boasts labor costs that are about 30% cheaper than the European average, as well as a well-developed tourist infrastructure that offers first-class hotels, restaurants and other amenities. The fact that all crews and other labor speak English is another value added.

A second incentive offers investment credits and tax rebates for companies offering services to the Maltese industry, whether they’re based in Malta or abroad.

“Malta can double for nearly any country in Europe and all within a small area,” Mallia said. “We also have facilities like water tanks that are unique in Europe and are an added draw. The purpose of the new incentives to ensure a constant flow of productions to Malta.”

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