'John Wick: Chapter 4'

Source: Lionsgate

‘John Wick: Chapter 4’

Fuelled by a competitive tax rebate and infrastructure investment, international production in France has tripled from a €305m spend in the country in pre-pandemic 2019 to a total spend of nearly €1bn ($1.09bn) in 2022, up from €398m in 2021.

“It’s clearly not just a post-Covid catch-up trend,” the CNC’s director of digital Vincent Florant told Screen of the surge in international production in the territory.

In 2022, 101 projects benefitted from the TRIP (Tax Rebate for International Production), a rebate of up to 30% of the eligible production spend to a cap of €30m ($32.7m) that rises to 40% when VFX expenses surpass €2m ($2.27m) on local soil.

The 101 projects benefitting from TRIP in 2022 was double the same figure in 2019, when 55 projects benefitted. In 2020 the number was 56 and in 2021 it was 62. Key to the surge has been an increasingly strong presence of international streamers making both features and series in both French and English.

John Wick and Adam Sandler pay France a visit

TRIP-powered titles shot last year include several recent releases like box-office topper John Wick 4, which did all its VFX work in France after shooting in Paris at famed spots like the Louvre museum and at the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysées. Jeremy Garelick’s Murder Mystery 2 for Netflix shot at the Studios de Paris, as well as on the top of the Eiffel Tower and throughout the city.

Other prestige projects include Thomas Napper’s feature from WME Independent Clicquot about the origins of the famed Veuve Cliquot champagne family, Apple TV+ series The New Look and Franklin, Anna Winger’s multilingual co-production Translatlantic, and Haut et Court series Mr. Spade from The Queen’s Gambit co-creator Scott Frank and showrunner Tom Fontana.

Among the qualifying TRIP projects, around two thirds of total spending went to fiction projects (€664m) and one third to animation (€327m) according to the CNC. Animation projects include Illumination Mac Guff’s work on The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Fortiche Studios with the second season of Netflix’s Arcane.

Extending their TRIP

“The 40% changes everything,” said John Bernard, leading France-based producer and CEO at Peninsula Film, adding that producers shooting in the country are “getting 40% on their below the line as well. That is why Franklin came over. It is why The New Look stayed for whole thing.”

Peninsula has worked on major international productions including Inception, HugoThe Tourist and the upcoming Clicquot. “We’re doing whole films here, not just a piece of them and that’s changed the dynamics of how we look for business and do business,” he added.

When Peninsula worked on 2007 action thriller The Bourne Ultimatum, “they came to town to do three days of shooting and no stunts. Today, the whole world has changed.” 

“France is now becoming the single hottest place to go to shoot,” he explained. “They don’t need to multi hub,” he said, adding that with the enhanced incentives, “you’d be mad not to bring a whole show to France.”

Raphael Benoliel, a go-to producer for Hollywood and beyond via his company Firstep, adds: “It’s one of the best tax credit in the world for series.” Benoliel handled line production for John Wick: Chapter 4, Murder Mystery 2 and David Fincher’s upcoming The Killer in addition to each of the four seasons of Emily In Paris and Raise The Dead.

The CNC continues to multiply its efforts to attract – and keep – foreign shoots in France. After a €1m studio revamping in 2020 and a €10m investment in 2021, the “France 2030” plan’s ‘The Great Image Factory’ project includes a €350m investment from the government that will be completed by private investors for a total €2bn spent on constructing soundstages, virtual and physical production, VFX and animation and also education.