Aiming to create a rival to Inside Track, the groundbreaking fund bankrolling such titles as Girl With A Pearl Earring, Canadian-UK financier Grosvenor Park has launched First Choice, a similar tax write-off scheme offering 30% of budgets.
Grosvenor Park chief Don Starr aims to raise $41m-$82m (£25m-£50m) from investors for the fund, which like Ingenious Media's Inside Track operates on accountancy write-off principles rather than the UK's Section 48 tax deferral. Starr said that, unlike Inside Track, First Choice will allow producers to get their third party finance out of any future revenues before the fund.
Starr stressed that the fund has only just launched and that he would only know how much cash it has in three weeks. The fund has several films lined up and Starr said that titles would typically be budgeted at least $16.3m (£10m) and would qualify as British and have a US pre-sale. Projects must have sales estimates worth 125% of the negative cost.
"That will knock a lot of movies out," Starr said. "If you have not got a US deal it is pretty tough to get those figures."
In addition to the 30% from First Choice, films bankrolled under the scheme will typically access a sale and leaseback deal under Section 48 without concern over so-called double dipping. Starr warned that the Inland Revenue is still concerned about double dipping, a problem potentially arising when films access both a sales and leaseback deal and an up-front production deal under Section 48.
"We have deliberately steered clear of the Section 48 production schemes," Starr said.
Grosvenor Park has appointed Colin Leventhal, co-founder of Miramax Films' now defunct HAL Films, to act as a consultant and a bridge to the film sector. Traditionally arranging sales and leaseback deals out of the UK, the operation's recent credits include The Importance Of Being Earnest and Buffalo Soldiers.
Starr said that Grosvenor Park had been working on First Choice for six months and has studied Inside Track closely. Launched last year, the rival provides 35% of budgets but recoups at first dollar with other financiers. The fund made a splash when it bankrolled three films from Pathe UK, including Earring, starring Colin Firth as Dutch painter Vermeer, and Suzie Gold, with Summer Phoenix.