During the last six years, Nu Image Films has quietly established not one but two full-service studios in unexpected locations.
The distrib bolstered its production power in Bulgaria by purchasing the former state-owned Boyana studio complex in outskirts of the country’s capital, Sofia, in 2006. Last year, it opened Millennium Studios in Shreveport, La.
While Bulgaria does not offer tax incentives, Nu Boyana Film Studios immediately attracted Hollywood as well as international productions seeking to take advantage of the country’s low production costs and the studio’s varied and historic locations. With a backlot housing 13 soundstages, Nu Boyana is Bulgaria’s leading production and service hub, offering state-of-the-art facilities at competitive prices. Under the company’s ownership, 180 feature film productions have been shot there. They include “Conan the Barbarian,” “Expendables 2” and Peter Weir’s “The Way Back,” where a Stalin-era Gulag camp was built on the backlot and Bulgaria’s winter mountains doubled for Siberia.
Following its Eastern European success, distrib opened the Louisiana studio, a 70,000-square-foot, $15 million complex that covers 6.7 acres and houses the Stateside branch of Worldwide VFX.
While Millennium Studios president Diego Martinez says that it’s “easier and cheaper to shoot” in Louisiana compared to many other states, he admits that “the biggest reason” production in Shreveport makes sense economically is the state’s aggressive tax credits.
Five feature film productions including Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming “Olympus Has Fallen” have been shot at the studios, which consist of two soundstages and 14,000 square feet of office space.
Future plans for both facilities include back-lot expansion. And David Varod, head of Nu Boyana, hopes to entice productions with Bulgarian tax incentives that “could be voted in this year and (possibly) could be active in January 2013.”
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