International productions are zeroing in on Belgium, the latest European hotspot for tax-driven production finance.
Movision, the UK tax fund, is thought to be the first overseas operation to set up a fund in Belgium since it launched tax shelter regulations that can provide up to 50% of a budget.
Movision, which has backed large-scale films such as The Bridge Of San Luis Rey, with Robert De Niro, and Head In The Clouds, with Penelope Cruz and Charlize Theron, initially aims to fund two films. But the fund, which is partnering with Benelux bank Fortisbank, then aims to raise a larger, ongoing fund.
One of the first projects is likely to be a WW1 film. As the amount of tax-driven investment provided by Belgium depends on the amount spent in the county, the subject matter is seen as ideal.
"There is a lot of money in Belgium, on the right project," said Peter James Movision's joint managing director.
Last month, Dutch producer Matthijs van Heijningen became one of the first foreigners to make use of the new regulations with Quantum Movie, a tentatively titled English-language mystery piece. The Euros7m production focuses on a historical meeting between Albert Einstein and other physicists at Brussels' Hotel Metropole in 1927.
Crucially for overseas filmmakers, Belgium has no nationality restrictions other than linking the level of tax relief firmly to the amount of the budget spent in the country. The relief is only available to companies as it permits reductions in corporate tax bills in return for guarantees on production spending in Belgium.
In the UK, Movision is currently halfway to raising its target of £50m for its second fund, which has committed to The Merchant Of Venice and Lords Of War. The first Movision fund raised £17m, an exceptional amount for a UK tax equity scheme under Section 48.