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U.K. boosted by favorable exchange rate

Tax credit, post-production also add incentives

Foreign filming on British soil is booming thanks to a favorable dollar/sterling exchange rate, a tax credit that’s particularly generous for Hollywood blockbusters and a strong post-production sector that can provide high-end vfx.

Ridley Scott’s untitled Robin Hood project as well as “Clash of the Titans,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Gulliver’s Travels,” “Inception” and “John Carter of Mars” are among the U.S. projects in various stages of shooting, contributing to an estimated $1 billion-plus of inward investment in 2009.

Pinewood and Shepperton remain the leading studios, but a new generation of large-scale facilities is emerging to cope with the demand, offering much cheaper and more basic service; those sites include Longcross, Leavesden, Cardington and Belfast’s Paint Hall.

Top facility: Longcross Studios in Surrey, just beyond the southwest fringes of London, hosted Warner’s “Clash of the Titans” and is now gearing up for Disney’s “John Carter of Mars.” Formerly a military research establishment, it has been converted into a bare-bones, cut-rate facility consisting of vast sheds ready to be rigged out by producers.

Key contacts: British Film commissioner Colin Brown and his small team will get involved at early script stage to work on budgets, scout locations, source key services and give advice on what it takes to pass the British culture test in order to qualify for the U.K. tax credit.

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