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E.U. Thumbs Up French Rebate Hike

New regs raise rebate roof to $13 million on international shoots

PARIS–France is openings its arms even wider to Hollywood and other foreign shoots.

After keeping the French industry on edge for over six months, the European Commission has finally greenlit a major boost to France’s Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP).

Approved by the French Parliament in December, the cap of the 20% rebate for spend by international shoots in France jumps from €4 million ($5.1 million) to $12.9 million. And accommodation now rates as eligible expenditure.

The smash-hit bow of Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin’s “Despicable Me 2” – produced by Universal’s Illumination banner and made at Gaul’s Illumination Mac Guff — is a shining example of the French tax rebate’s benefits.

“Despicable Me,” “The Lorax” and now “Despicable Me 2” have turned the spotlight on France’s vibrant animation biz and talent pool, creating jobs, training animators to work on world-class projects, and bringing much coin to the local industry.

Illumination topper Chris Meledandri has often said that though Illumination initially came to France for its animation talents at Mac Guff, it would have been extremely difficult for Illumination to have stayed in France after “Despicable Me” if there had been no incentive.

Treading an even more successful B.O. path than “Despicable Me” and “Dr Seuss’ The Lorax” (another Illumination Mac Guff-made title), “Despicable Me 2” bowed on July 3 in the U.S. and has already grossed an estimated $84 million worldwide, including a whopping opening day $34.3 million Stateside.

“This much higher cap will help us to lure complete shoots, which might also be interested by the Cite du Cinema’s Paris Studios sound stages for example,” said Film France CEO Patrick Lamassoure.

“And the accommodation expenses will make a difference for the projects which come with large foreign crews and stay in hotels in Paris or all over France.”

The latest TRIP winners are Eleanor Coppola’s debut feature “Bonjour Anne” and the short animated Minions films which will be released next year by Universal along with “Despicable Me”‘s spin-off “The Minions”.

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