Raleigh weighs French site

Studios wants to open facility in former airfield

Raleigh Studios hopes to build an 111-acre film studio at Francazal, a former military airfield near Toulouse, in the South of France.

The Hollywood-based studio initiated discussions with the local prefecture of Haute-Garonne last week via attorney Jacques Lavergne and architect Bruno Granja. However, the prefecture, which is in charge of the 617-acre site’s conversion, declared in a statement that it had launched a call for projects and wouldn’t examine Raleigh Studios’ proposal until 2012.

Lavergne said various regional bodies and execs — including Martin Malvy, prexy of the Midi-Pyrenees region — have joined forces to urge the Haute-Garonne prefect to examine the studio’s proposal as a priority, before the end of the year.

“The heavy bureaucracy in France tends to slow down discussions, and in this case, there’s a bit of a calender clash between the prefecture and my clients from Raleigh Studios who are ready to move very fast,” Lavergne said.

Eventually, the project will be have to be backed by higher authorities, notably the ministries of defense and culture, said Jean-Louis Chauzy, prexy of the region’s economic, social and environmental council.

“It’s an innovative and unexpected project that could boost the local economy tremendously by creating thousands of jobs,” said Philippe Guerin, mayor of Cugnaux, the city nearest to the site.

The cost of converting the site for Raleigh Studios would range from €80 million ($116 million) to $144.5 million, said Lavergne, adding that the studio would conserve the airbase infrastructure.

The idea, he said, is to “position Raleigh half-way between China and the U.S., develop international and European co-productions, allowing them to benefit from qualified French crews.”

The studio is also considering opening a film school on the site, per Lavergne.

Raleigh Studios, already in Louisiana, Georgia and Michigan, most recently opened a studio in Budapest, Hungary.

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