Olivewood’s future looks dimmer

The future of a Cyprus film incentive scheme to attract producers from Hollywood and other bigtime productions looks blurry as its 2020 budget was shackled by MPs.

After a heated discussion among MPs, parliament gave the green light for the €8.5 mln reimbursement to the producers of a Hollywood movie filmed entirely in Cyprus, but the incentive scheme’s budget remains tied up.

Jiu-Jitsu’s reimbursement was approved at the last minute in the final House plenary for the year.

Jiu-Jitsu, starring Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage is the first international movie shot in Cyprus attracted by an audio-visual incentive scheme promoted by the government.

It was considered to be a make or break test case for Cyprus’ attempt to put itself on the global filming map.

Stakeholders say that Hollywood is keeping a close eye the situation, waiting to see how the scheme will work in practice. Insiders are concerned that producers of big-budget films may feel unease with the House decision to withhold the scheme’s 25 mln budget.

The incentive plan is managed by Invest Cyprus and aims to establish a film industry on the island dubbed as “Olivewood”.

According to the scheme, the government has provided a total of €25 mln for the ventures it might fund annually for the promotion of the film industry.

The scheme provides Cypriot and foreign producers with incentives such as cash rebates and/or tax credits of up to 35% on qualifying production expenditures and also provides tax allowances of 20% for investment in infrastructure and equipment.

AKEL MPs and the Greens had voted against the release of the €8.5 mln refund Jiu-Jitsu claimed from the state, the money was approved by a majority of ruling DISY, DIKO and EDEK MPs.

The film wrapped up in August with producers filing their paperwork.

Invest Cyprus chairman Michalis Michael told Politis radio a week before the film was reimbursed on December 9, no action had been taken since then.

Source: Financial Mirror

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