Malta’s renowned water tanks up for lease
by Joseph Proimakis
- There is one month left for applications and investment proposals for the world-famous filming location up for grabs from the Malta Film Commission
Malta’s world-renowned water tanks, which have served as massive filming locations for big-budget Hollywood films over the past decades, have reached a turning point: following a legal battle over the former managers' unpaid ground rent, the Mediterranean Film Studios (MFS) have returned to government control, and the Malta Film Commission is still looking for a new high bidder.
Built in 1963 as a practical alternative to the troubles inherent in filming on the open sea, Malta’s first water tank was followed by a second concave-shaped facility in 1979 that allowed for underwater filming, while a third, smaller tank was constructed in 1997, facilitating close-up shots and the use of scale models.
Despite surviving the increasing competition, the facilities took a turn for the worse over the past few years, local experts say, with the previous management failing to secure the funds necessary to continue the upkeep of the tanks, as well as to ensure that the technical know-how would be passed on to a younger generation.
With the MFS back under government ownership, the Malta Film Commission is aiming to revive the struggling facility by fostering a joint public-private partnership with a new management company. The Expression of Interest (EoI) that has been issued calls for proposals containing investment plans for the existing water facilities as well as further investments in the circa 94,000 sq m site, including the construction of one or more sound stages and other facilities in order to bring the Malta Film Studios up to international standards.
The private partner will also be responsible for promoting, managing and operating the Malta Film Studios for a fixed duration, to be established following the receipt of EoI applications and taking into account the initial capital investment to be made and the time required to recoup it.
Interested parties will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement and pay a €2,000 fee to be granted access to the EoI document, while applications will stay open until 15 December.