Warner Bros. is set to tap into a transatlantic distribution fund being raised through UK tax financing.
The scheme is the brainchild of UK tax specialist Scotts Atlantic, which is currently raising the fund from private investors. While Scotts Atlantic was not available for comment, rival tax funds said that the scheme involved Warner Bros. licensing rights to its films to UK investors, who would then pass the films back to the US studio to distribute. The aim is said to provide p&a funds for releases in the UK and North America.
The scheme is said to be the latest in a string of innovative financing structures falling outside the UK's tax breaks for film production under Section 48, which require films to qualify as British and be budgeted at under $24m (£15m).
Instead of qualifying under Section 48, Ingenious Media's Inside Track and Grosvenor Park's First Choice, which are both aimed at financing production, give investors tax relief under accountancy write-off regulations.
Unless the Scotts Atlantic fund benefits a significant number of UK films, the scheme is bound is raise further concerns about UK tax money going overseas.
However, Warner, which said it did not comment "on other people's business claims", is already involved in UK production with the Harry Potter franchise. The studio is also backing independent production with the Jeremy Thomas-produced Young Adam, to which it bought UK rights at financing stage.
Although the two initiatives are not believed to be directly linked, the fund comes a month after Warner president and chief operating officer Alan Horn said that plans for a specialised film unit are back on the fast track.
The Scotts Atlantic scheme has been put together by UK tax investment specialist Scotts and Andrew Somper, whose Atlantic Screen Capital previously had a deal with Stewart Till's now defunct Signpost Films.
Somper was formerly managing director and chief operating officer of tax-based financier Grosvenor Park Media, which also tried to set up a longterm tax-financing deal with a US studio
(See Screen International this week for further analysis).