Francis Lawrence

Bevy of international productions already lined up

Hunger Games-helmer Francis Lawrence will be trekking to Gaul to lens “Seashore” in 2014.

Other high profile pics already greenlit by the revamped TRIP tax rebate scheme include NBC’s mini-series “Rosemary’s Baby” and Bill Mechanic-produced “The Moon and the Sun.”

CNC topper Frederique Bredin expects 2014 to be a record year in terms of international productions. “It’s still very early to tell, because decisions on location shooting are taken in a very short timeframe, and projects are kept confidential,” she explains. “But I can already tell you that 5 international productions, recently approved by the TRIP scheme, will generate 100 days of filming in 2014, which is a very good start for the year.”

Since the scheme was introduced in 2009, more than 70 foreign productions from 14 countries have benefited from TRIP.

In 2013 TRIP-qualified foreign shoot spend in France exceeded $136.7 million – 7% of global French production spend.

A total spend of $497 million has been invested in France since the scheme was launched.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, since France also hosts many foreign productions that are not covered by TRIP – given that producers must spend at least €1 million ($1.36 million) to qualify for the scheme.

There are also an increasing number of foreign commercials that lens in France.

Until now, an annual average of 9-10 live-action foreign features have been shot over the past two years in France under the TRIP scheme, complemented by VFX work, animation films and series and TV series.

Data from Film France reveals that in 2012, 27% of foreign productions were originated by U.K. producers, followed by 16% from the US, 8% from Germany, 8% from China, 8% from Japan and 5% from Italy.

“More and more productions are coming to France,” says Franck Priot, COO of Film France, “and this is just the beginning.”

Following the recent hike in the cap on TRIP from $5.44 million to $27.2 million, and the extension of eligible expenses, the number of foreign shoots is expected to mushroom.

TRIP-financed projects that have recently lensed in France include Israel Horovitz’s “My Old Lady” starring Kristin Scott Thomas, produced by BBC Films and Cohen Media Group; the Luc Besson-scripted “Three Days to Kill” starring Kevin Costner; Joel Hopkins’ “Love Punch,” with Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan; Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong biopic, produced by Working Title and StudioCanal; and Lasse Hallstrom’s DreamWorks pic, “The Hundred Foot Journey,” based on Richard C. Morais’ best-seller about a feud between an Indian restaurant and a high-class French restaurant.

2014 productions in the pipeline include Sean McNamara’s $40 million “The Moon and the Sun,” based on the 1997 novel by Vonda N. McIntyre, which is co-scripted and produced by Bill Mechanic and line-produced in France by Raphael Benoliel.

Pic stars Pierce Brosnan as Sun King Louis XIV who falls in love with a mermaid. Principal photography will divide between Melbourne, Australia and a two -week shoot in Versailles.

Francis Lawrence (“Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) will also be traveling to France to lens the project “Seashore,” produced by C4 Productions and line-produced by John Bernard’s Peninsula.

Bernard has also just completed a two-day French shoot on Disney’s science fiction mystery film “Tomorrowland,” directed by Brad Bird and starring George Clooney.

The 4-hour NBC mini-series “Rosemary’s Baby,” produced by Lionsgate TV, directed by Agnieszka Holland and starring Zoe Saldana, is currently shooting in Paris.

TRIP financing for VFX and animation films in 2014 include Universal’s “Max” and “Lunch,” both set up at Illumination MacGuff.

In addition to non-European productions that qualify for TRIP funding, 50% of French films are co-productions – either those with majority financing from France or international co-productions with majority funding raised abroad.

Recent co-productions include high-profile French-language projects such as $8.9 million Palme d’Or winner “Amour,” by Austrian helmer Michael Haneke, which was a French, German, Austrian co-production.

France also develops a small number of high-budget English-language titles every year that qualify as official French films – for example five out of 18 projects budgeted over €15 million in 2012 were shot in English.

Co-productions qualify for the domestic tax rebate scheme and have access to the full range of French financing, including TV investment, automatic subsidies and the SOFICA tax shelter investment bodies.

Recent examples include Brian de Palma’s 2012 French-German co-production “Passion,” Olivier Megaton’s “Taken 2,” Patrice Leconte’s “A Promise,” starring Rebecca Hall, Olivier Dahan’s 2014 Cannes opener “Grace of Monaco,” and Luc Besson’s “Malavita,” starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones.

Film financier Leonard Glowinski is currently developing an English-language genre film that will be shot in Paris, with a French director and international cast, and a remake of the Argentinian film, “Un Cuento Chino” that will be shot in Paris and the Nord Pas de Calais region, scripted and directed by the Franco-Chilean scriptwriter Hector Cabello Reyes.

Raphael Benoliel will be line producing the U.K./French coproduction “Our Kind of Traitor,” based on John le Carre’s book, produced by The Ink Factory and Potboiler Productions, starring Ewan McGregor, to be shot in Paris and the Alps.

Other English-language French films scheduled to bow in 2014 include Luc Besson’s “Lucy,” with Scarlett Johansson, Dany Boon’s “Superchondriac,” and “The Search,” by “The Artist”-helmer, Michel Hazanavicius.

Given the dual weight of a rising number of TRIP productions and high-profile international French co-productions, 2014 is certain to welcome a record number of international productions lensing on French shores.

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