Spanish studio Ciudad De LaLuz is in advance negotiations to bring Jean-Jacques Annaud'slatest feature to its sound stages. Minor,which is billed as a mythological and pagan comedy set in an era before Homer,is scheduled to shoot around the end of the year.
The French film-maker's newproject - produced with Xavier Castano through theircompany Reperage - is just one of severalinternational shoots which the studio, known as City Of Light in English, haspencilled in for 2006-2007. It follows the likes of the Antonio Banderas-directed ElCamino De Los Ingleses; Manolete, which stars Adrien Brody and Penelope Cruz; and French live-actionsequel Asterix At The OlympicGames.
Other possibilities includea $100m-plus Hollywood studio production, which could occupy a good portion ofthe complex's six stages and 30 acres of backlot forat least four months during late 2006 and early 2007.
Located in Alicante in the southern region of Valencia, Ciudad is amajor new incentive to bolstering the trend of international films and talentscoming to Spain. It has just begun its second phase of construction, whichincludes a 53,000-square foot soundstage planned for an April 2007 opening. Thestudio has also hired former Disney executive Reid Cline as its new studio manager.
To help encourage furtherproduction, the Valencian government has extended aseries of financial incentives to shoot at Ciudad, scheduled to finish in May,until the end of the year. They pay between 5% and 10% of the productionbudget, awarded according to a series of requisites and points rating system.
Producers believe the systemessential to attracting shoots at this early stage. "They are a veryimportant stimulus," explains Lolafilms chiefAndres Vicente Gomez. "The pros [to Ciudad] are obvious: it is the onlyreal studio in Spain for feature film shoots. But they are also the bestbecause they're the only ones. Construction is not complete yet and there arestill some shortages in terms of services. For example you have to bring allcatering in from outside."
Aside from using Ciudad forparts of Ray Loriga's Teresa - which stars Paz Vega as the eponymous Spanish saint -Gomez will shoot Manoleteat the facility. The estimated $20m saga, which stars Brody as the mid-20thcentury bullfighter and Cruz as his movie star lover, began filming in Spain onMarch 31, shooting interiors on two small stages at Ciudad from April 24.
Pathe's $100m Asterix film willshoot entirely in Alicante for at least six monthsfrom June through November. Starring Gerard Depardieu, it will occupy two largeand one small stage, as well as all the backlot.Exteriors will shoot in Alicante itself.
On a national level, Ciudadis one more attraction for non-Spanish talents to come Spain, where the localproduction sector is strengthening its potential to outsiders by assemblingbigger-budgeted, more internationally ambitious fare.
"The Spanish industryis maturing and there are more internationally-oriented producers than a fewyears ago," explains Juan Gordon of MorenaFilms, in talks to board Brazilian director AndruchaWaddington's $40m Spanish-language US production Conquistador starring Antonio Banderas.
Gordon distinguishes betweenlow-budget, non-commercially oriented, largely locally-targeted films; and acache of projects budgeted upwards of $7.5m "that have the cash to paybigger talents and the ambition to pre-sell to other territories."
Between these lies a No Man's Land where films can neither befinanced entirely in Spain nor afford names like Alatriste star Viggo Mortenson and Backwoodslead Gary Oldman.
Other international talentinclude Woody Allen, scheduled to shoot here for MediaProin 2007; Milos Forman, who finished filming Goya's Ghosts in December for KanZaman outfit Xuxa; and Emir Kusturica, who is putting final touches to his documentary Maradona for Pentagrama.
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