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France’s New 30% Tax Rate Expected to Lure More U.S. Productions

Since Jan. 1, France’s tax rebate programs for international and domestic productions have been hiked from 20% to 30%, with a new ceiling of €30 million ($33 million).
In early February, Fleur Pellerin, then-French minister of culture, traveled to Los Angeles, where she met with the heads of Warner Bros., Disney, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate, to publicize the new 30% rate and entice more U.S. shoots to France.

Frederique Bredin, president of national film agency the CNC, says Pellerin’s visit provoked renewed interest from U.S. majors, including ongoing discussions with Disney to film a Marvel Studios movie in France.

Bredin says the new 30% rates “contribute to making France one of the most attractive shooting locations in the world, thanks to competitive tax incentives and the quality of French infrastructures and crews.”

She adds that key reasons for introducing the rates were to curb domestic runaway productions and counter frustration that “foreign movies whose stories were related to France were not shot in France.”

French TV series, including those shot in English, also now benefit from a 25% rebate, which will be used by series such as season two of “Versailles.”

Bredin predicts that the new rates will generate $220 million in additional activity and 10,000 more jobs in the sector in 2016.

This year “will be the biggest year ever for foreign shoots in France,” concurs Olivier Rene Veillon, executive director of the Paris-region Ile de France Film Commission.

Nicolas Traube, president of the national film commission, Film France, believes the country is now “more than ever at the top level of shooting and post-production locations for major international productions.”

“We’re currently seeing a rise in interest and are looking forward to see these projects filmed or (do) post-(production) in France,” Traube says. “Some projects are scheduled for this spring, others planned for the second half of 2016.”

Hollywood has been the prime user of the Tax Rebate for International Production (Trip) to date. In 2015 U.S. productions were responsible for 87% of total Trip investment, followed by 11% from the U.K. However, the number of U.S. live-action shoots peaked in 2012. Since then a bigger proportion of U.S. investment via Trip has been channeled toward animation/vfx projects — responsible for two-thirds of total Trip spend in 2015.

The CNC hopes that the 30% rate will stimulate both live-action shoots and vfx/animation projects, achieving a balance of investment between the two.

France has also been actively courting productions from Asia. In 2014 22% of total foreign shoots in France came from China, Japan, India and South Korea. Asian productions lensing in 2016 include Bollywood romance “Befikre,” directed by Aditya Chopra and starring Ranveer Singh, and Bredin says, “An interesting Chinese project has also been confirmed.”

Some productions are lured to Gaul by its chic appeal, including Neil Jordan’s Cote d’Azur crime drama “Riviera” and BBC/Amazon’s haute couture series “The Collection.”

France is the world’s No. 1 tourism destination, and French authorities are aware that attracting foreign films and TV series can foster film tourism — as demonstrated in New Zealand and the U.K. by the impact of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” franchises, respectively.

Several international productions have an evident impact on tourism, such as the BBC detective series “Death in Paradise,” now in its fifth season and fueling growth in U.K. visitors to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. One of the CNC’s main goals is to attract an increasing number of U.S. TV series to France, given the trend toward higher investment in TV production worldwide.

“Developing French production of TV series is a strategic line of action for U.S., particularly through foreign shoots,” Bredin says. “Our ability to host American feature film shoots under excellent conditions is now well established — and we are delighted to have confirmation on Christopher Nolan’s next project, ‘Dunkirk,’ shooting in France, but we must convince our American partners that France is also a great location for TV series. The success of U.K. series ‘Riviera,’ ‘Death in Paradise’ or, previously, ‘Merlin,’ has already set an example.”

René Veillon says a major U.S. TV series is finalizing negotiations to shoot in Paris this fall.

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