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French authorities reject Raleigh plan

Granja aimed to build 61-acre studio

PARIS

French authorities have turned down a Raleigh Studios-backed application to build an €80 million ($104.2 million) film and entertainment complex at Francazal, a former military airfield near Toulouse, in the South of France.

The project, put together by local architect Bruno Granja, reportedly comprised 10 stages, a film school, a multiplex, shops, restaurants and a hotel. Granja said it would create more than 5,000 jobs by 2019.

The prefecture of Haute-Garonne rejected the application, arguing that Granja’s company, Studios Toulouse Francazal, didn’t have the necessary financial backing. It pointed out that Granja had offered $22 million to acquire the 61-acre site, which had been valued at $35 million by a government-backed agency.

Questioned about Raleigh’s participation, Granja told Variety the Hollywood-based company had come on board to assist with the process of analyzing and implementing the redevelopment plan but had not committed to invest in the project.

Granja said he had other financial sources lined up, including banks and private investors, but declined to give details.

Thierry de Segonzac, of technicians guild Ficam, has been protesting against the project for months, claiming there isn’t room for another mega-studio in Gaul. “For the past 10 years, just 45% of France’s 34 film and TV stages have been filled on a regular basis,” de Segonzac argued.

Granja is now appealing to the prefecture to take a second look at the project. Raleigh Enterprises prexy Mark Rosenthal said, “We suspect the final chapter in this story is yet to be written.”

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