Paris now has its own “Cinecittà” following the opening, on September 21st, of the 62,000 square meter “Cité du Cinema” located in the deco surroundings of a former thermal power station in the low income housing area of Saint Denise. The culmination of a project that cost 180 million Euros, followed for a long period of time (12 years) by film-maker Luc Besson, the complex has 9 film studios (from 600 to 2100 sq. m.), offices, infrastructures for carrying out production activities and two film schools (one of which is the prestigious Louis-Lumière national film school).
The opening of the “Cité du Cinema” brings to an end a paradoxical situation in which the major producer and consumer of cinema in Europe had no suitable production infrastructure such as those in London, Berlin and Rome.
Although the studios are already hosting a number of important productions – filming is in progress on “Malavita”, Besson’s new movie with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer and the sequel to “The Smurfs” by the American Raja Gosnell – most of the attention is directed towards the big US productions which are increasingly attracted by the tax benefits offered by Eastern European countries and neighboring Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as across the Channel. In fact, whilst France and the United Kingdom both offer a 20% tax credit to international productions, only France imposes a spending cap of 4 million Euros. This is another reason why the United Kingdom absorbs around half the money spent by international production companies in Europe, compared to 3-4% for France.
It is probable that the “Cité du Cinema” will highlight the inadequacy of the TRIP (the French tax credit for international productions), as transpires from the comments made by Patrick Lamassoure, the general delegate of Film France, to Cinema & Video International:
“The “Cité” offers the very best, from a technical as well as an artistic point of view, as confirmed during the filming, albeit for a short period of time, of the American “The Smurfs 2”. However, competition is not just a question of competence but also financial incentives, so we will have to see whether, in the future, the TRIP will be adequate for movies filmed in the Studios. The problem is the 4 million Euro cap: will that be enough for a blockbuster made entirely in France, including the sound stages? The French government is very aware of this issue”.
The “Cité du Cinema” was almost entirely financed by the real estate developer Nef Lumiere, except for the sound stages: 30 million Euros came from Besson’s company, Europa Corp (50%), financier-producer Tarack Ben Ammar (25%) and Euro Media Group (25%).