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Benelux Distributor Belga Films Goes Into Production, Exhibition (EXCLUSIVE)

CANNES — Belgium’s second biggest distributor, the 79-year old Belga Films, is getting ready to step into English-language production and exhibition.

Fabrice Delville, founder and managing director of Belga Production and Belga Productions, said the company is currently developing a roster of mainstream English-language movies and will deliver one to two pics per year. Although the films won’t have to be creatively linked to Belgium, they’ll either shoot or do post-prod there.

The strategic shift will complement Belga’s distribution business and film financing. The company, which has outperformed Warner, Disney, Sony Pictures, Paramount and Universal for the last three years, is the Netherlands’ top distributor of indie movies. It has output deals with EuropaCorp and Lionsgate and releases about 20 films per year — 90% of which are English-language fare, notably “Paddington,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Hunger Games” series and “Sicario.”

The outfit will also be launching a multiplex of eight screens in Bruxelles in October. The state-of-the-art multiplex will be housed in a commercial mall, said Delville.

The company is involved in line producing films through Belga Productions and securing their financing via its tax credit company Belga Films Fund which was created last year. The banner raised 6 million Euros in 2015 for five films – including Ben Stassen’s Studiocanal-repped animated feature “Son of Bigfoot” — and expects to double that amount next year.

Belga Productions for instance line produced Steven Quale’s “The Lake” produced by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. The movie production spent 4 months in Belgium, shooting underwater in one of the world’s biggest lake, and did post-production work locally.

The Belgian tax shelter is one of Europe’s most attractive incentives. Open to all European films, the fund brings more than 40% net financing movies that are either produced in Belgium or do the post-production there.

Belga’s distribution slate includes two Cannes pics: Sean Penn’s “The Last Face” and Shane Black’s “The Nice Guys” with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.

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