$16 million project stars Hopkins, Streep
BERLIN — “The Last Station,” Michael Hoffman’s $16 million project starring Anthony Hopkins as Leo Tolstoy and Meryl Streep as his wife, has completed its financing with a $1 million award this week from German funding org FFA.The pic is now set to shoot in Germany sometime this year, pending confirmation of dates by Hopkins and Streep. Written and to be directed by Hoffman, the pic is based on Jay Parini’s book about the aging Tolstoy’s dilemma whether to bequeath his wealth to his beloved family, or to donate it to projects for the public good. The Robbie Little Co. is handling international sales, with Hoffman’s agents at ICM repping North American rights. Universal’s German arm is set to take all German-speaking rights to the project. The movie is an advertisement for the increasingly aggressive approach by Germany’s federal and regional governments to attract major international productions into Germany, regardless of the nationality of the filmmakers or the language in which the film is shot. Roughly 30% of the budget has been raised by Teutonic co-producer Jens Meurer of Egoli Tossell from a combination of new and established German funds. Aside from the FFA coin, there’s a contribution from regional funds Berlin Brandenburg and MDM, plus around 10% of the budget from the new Federal Film Fund, which rebates part of the production coin spent in Germany. In an innovative move, the state of Sachsen-Anhalt has also put up a guarantee to underwrite a substantial gap financing from Bank of Ireland. This initiative is not linked to films being shot in the Sachsen-Anhalt region, but rather designed to help local producers, in this case Egoli Tossell, to retain rights in their projects. “This does show that a major international film like ‘Last Station’ can be made possible by combining attractive and innovative financing arrangements in Germany,” said Meurer. “And unlike the French, we don’t mind that the movie is in English, and that Michael Hoffman and the book on which it’s based are both American.” “We’ve had a remarkable level of support from the German state funds,” added U.K. co-producer Chris Curling of Zephyr Films. “I believe we are the first international film to utilize the new German spend incentive.” The project will be officially launched with all its funding partners at a breakfast at the Berlin Film Festival Friday .