Romanian lawmakers voted Wednesday night to revise the country’s 35-45% cash rebate, topping up the €50 million ($59 million) annual fund to finance the cashback scheme through 2023 and breathing fresh life into the local film industry.
The move ended an anxious period of speculation for the Romanian biz, which saw months-long delays in applications for the rebate after a bureaucratic reshuffle following a change in government last winter. The coronavirus pandemic also put film industry legislation on hold earlier this year.
“This is definitely a good thing for the entire industry,” said Bogdan Moncea, of Castel Film Studios in Bucharest, which serviced the fifth installment in Universal’s “Dragonheart” fantasy franchise. “Castel Film is in the process of negotiating two feature films for the end of the year which are relying on the rebate to be economically feasible. So it would be a positive impact for our business.”
The 35% cash rebate is available to feature and short films, documentaries, TV and web series, and animated projects, with a minimum spend of €100,000 ($118,000) and a €10 million ($12 million) cap per project. At least 20% of the budget must be spent in Romania. If the project explicitly promotes the country, the rebate rises to 45%. The call for applications is expected to open in the coming weeks.
Among the upsides of shooting in the Eastern European nation are its rich and varied locations, skilled, English-speaking crews, and production costs that are among the lowest in the region. The capital, Bucharest, boasts several world-class studios, including Castel and Bucharest Film Studios, which is refurbishing its facilities.
The decision to extend the rebate through 2023 allows Romania to keep pace with neighboring countries in an increasingly competitive region. Greece this summer raised its rebate to 40%, following recent increases by Croatia (25%) and Lithuania (30%). Poland also introduced a 30% cash rebate last year.
Recent projects to lens in Romania include episodes from season one and two of BBC America’s “Killing Eve” (pictured), Amazon Studios’ “The Romanoffs,” the Corin Hardy’s “Conjuring” spin-off “The Nun,” and “Voyagers,” a “Lord of the Flies”-style dystopian space thriller from Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios and Thunder Road, directed by Neil Burger, which will be released in the U.S. by Lionsgate.