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Inside Move: Taxing times for ‘Liaisons’

U.K. changes foster Gallic telepic rethink

A $20 million TV mini-series based on the classic French tale “Dangerous Liaisons” has been plunged into financial peril, following the recent decision by the U.K government to remove tax breaks from TV production.

The project, starring Catherine Deneuve, Rupert Everett, Nastassja Kinski and Leelee Sobieski, is a co-production between France, the U.K. and Canada. It is already shooting in Scotland, and post-production was set to take place in Britain. The total production spend in the U.K. was due to reach $5 million.

But now the British leg of the co-production is in danger of collapse, unless the government agrees to allow tax relief for projects that were already under way when the rule change was announced April 17.

The other alternative being considered by the producers, led by French outfit JLA, is to cut a version for theatrical release; such a move would requalify the project for the tax breaks.

“We are shooting on 35mm, and there is a provision in all the contracts for a theatrical version,” says Stephen Margolis of the U.K. co-producer Future Film Group. “But it would almost make a mockery of what the government was trying to achieve (in reforming the tax breaks).”

“This is a classic example of the kind of high-end drama that we should be getting into the U.K., to help the British film industry,” says Margolis. “They could easily have filmed the Scottish scenes in Normandy, but they came here because of the tax break.