Hollywood facility bets on the film biz in Central Europe

Expressing confidence in the future of the film biz in Central Europe, Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios is about to open a large facility in Budapest.

The Hungarian complex boasts nine soundstages — one of which covers 45,000 square feet — and a 15-acre backlot. Services include lighting and grip, camera, equipment rentals, scenic, transportation, production services and line producing.

Raleigh Studios Budapest also has administrative services to tap local incentives and tax rebates.

Total investment in the project is about $70 million, says Raleigh prexy Michael Moore.

Hungary offers a tax credit that covers up to 25% of production costs. The incentive, along with the region’s lower-salaried film workers, offers a lure to U.S. producers.

The Budapest venture is a partnership between Raleigh and local shingle Origo Film Group. Origo is the Euro studio’s corporate owner.

Partnering with the Budapest entity, Burbank, Calif.,-based post house FotoKem will manage and operate a post-production facility on site, including a film lab, digital post and vfx capabilities. Allan Tudzin, a 29-year Fotokem vet,has already moved to Budapest to manage the operation.

Steve Auer, who ran Hollywood’s Sunset Gower Studios for 12 years, has been living in Budapest for a year and will be Raleigh’s topper there. Raleigh lighting department head Jason Leeds has also moved to Hungary.

“There will be six to eight American managers there,” says Moore. “We’re still looking for people.”

Despite the challenges the industry faces in today’s economic environment, Moore takes a long view of the company’s investment. “Productions will always be going to Europe,” he said. “Even if didn’t make economic sense, they’d go there for creative reasons.”

Raleigh’s Hollywood headquarters hosted a Hungarian-themed gala Feb. 18 to kick off the Budapest outpost. Raleigh Budapest’s official opening will be April 1, but occupancy will begin by the end of the month, per Moore.

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