In response to the soaring number of locations shoots in the region, the city of Marseilles is building a brand new film and television studio, thirty years after the closure of its last complex.

The southern city has seen a 146% leap in the production shoots over the last five years, more than twice the national average. The arrival of productions such as Luc Besson's Taxi, Taxi 2 and Taxi 3 have helped make it one of the trendiest locations in France.

The complex, called the Pole Media Belle de Mai, is set to open up in April 2003. It will house three soundstages (1000 sq meters, 800 sq meters and 350 sq meters), production offices, a set construction workshop as well as post-production and equipment rental facilities.

The studio operation, under the 'Studios de Marseille' banner, is to be run by four partners: France's Groupe TSF, an equipment rental specialist holds a 51% stake, post-production house Groupe Image ( 31%) and Montreal-based equipment specialist Moliflex-White (9%). The fourth partner, Les Films du Soleil, a local news and current affairs production company, holds a 10% stake.