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Barrandov builds up expansion plans

Kuba aiming for Europe's biggest soundstage

CANNES — As competition between European production service providers heats up, Barrandov Studios in Prague has started building three soundstages, which can be turned into one 43,000-square-foot superstage.

They’re also talking to Babelsberg Studios in Berlin about a loose cooperation.

“We think it will be the biggest soundstage in Europe,” said Barrandov topper Vladimir Kuba, who anticipates that building will be completed in November. Kuba is also investing in office spaces and buildings for costume and other departments.

The expansion comes as an increasing number of productions move to Romania and Bulgaria.

Sofia and Bucharest might be less Westernized than Prague and offer less comfort to A-list stars, but bottom-of-the-barrel prices and improving quality of services make them an interesting choice for producers.

However, the real thorn in Kuba’s side is Blighty’s tax incentives and the Hungarian tax shelter.

While the former is putting a considerable dent in the 30%-40% price advantage Barrandov has had over Western European studios, the latter is giving Budapest a financial advantage over Prague.

“With the new tax scheme in the U.K. our price advantage over Pinewood is reduced to 10%-15%,” said Kuba.

He and other Czech industryites are lobbying the Czech government to introduce a tax incentive.

As an additional strategic move to maintain Barrandov’s competitiveness, Kuba plans to join forces with Babelsberg Studios.

“We are in contact with Babelsberg and we’re talking to each other about how to cooperate and provide better and wider services. After all, Berlin is only a four-hour drive away from Prague,” said Kuba.

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