Karlovy Vary: Czechs Up Cash Rebate Fund to $40M a Year to Boost Local, International Production

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Daniel Espinosa shot "Child 44" in Prague

Rebates worth 20 percent of local spend have attracted Hollywood movies that include Ridley Scott Productions' Stalin-era thriller "Child 44."

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic -- The Czech Film Fund has been increased by more than $15 million to around $40 million a year, boosting the territory's chance of attracting big-name Hollywood productions eligible for its 20 percent cash rebate scheme.

The upped funding follows a series of positive figures on increased turnover in the local and international film market in country since the introduction of the cash rebate four years ago.

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Last year, Ridley Scott Productions' wartime Russia-set murder thriller Child 44, directed by Daniel Espinosa, starring Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace, was lured to shoot at Prague's Barrandov Studios because of the value of the rebate.

The new funds will also ensure that eligible productions get the full 20 percent on application. Last year funders were swamped by eligible application and had to ration the distribution of money meaning that some movies initially only received seven percent rebates of local spend, although all eligible monies were eventually paid out.

The increase is designed to bring more projects to the country, which faces stiff competition from other low budget European locations.

Figures released Sunday by APA, the Czech film producers association, showed that turnover on the local industry was up 23 per cent from just over $200 million in 2012 to $250 million in 2013.

Spending for international projects attracted to the country, including Child 44, was up 82 percent to $140 million during the same period.

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But competition from low cost locations that include Hungary and Greece dented revenues for companies producing television advertisements, with a 21 percent drop in the turnover of that sector to $70 million.

Domestically produced Czech films claimed 24 percent of box office admissions last year, bringing in $60 million.

Pavel Strnad, APA head and a producer with Prague-based Negativ Film, told The Hollywood Reporter: "Things are improving; the funds available for the rebate are increasing and we hope that is going to continue."

One film attracted by the cash rebates is a Chinese romance, Somewhere Only We Know, directed and starring Chinese super star, actress Jinglei Xu (The Warlords), that had originally been set in Paris.

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The film, produced by Beijing Kaila Pictures, due for release in China on Valentine's Day next year, was brought to Prague with the help of the Czech Film Commission.

Ludmila Claussova, commission head, said: "The current government seems to be more interested in attracting investment in the film sector."

Katerina Weissova, managing director of APA, said that the major competition Czech producers faced was that from Hungary, where the government had increased incentives available to 30 per cent of local spend.