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INDUSTRY Czech Republic

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Czech film studios feel the heat

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An easterly wind is blowing in the Barrandov and Prague Studios these days. Executives from the Czech Republic's two best-known studios are sitting uncomfortably over more indications that foreign film productions might be lost to competitors from Hungary and Romania.

Ironically, this comes after news that the new James Bond film might shoot in the Czech Republic. MGM, Columbia and EON Productions shot Casino Royale [+see also:
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, the latest Bond edition with Daniel Craig, in Prague and Karlovy Vary and while it is clear that Czech locations and studios are again in the running, it is far from certain that the 22nd Bond instalment will film here as well.

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“We are talking to [the Bond producers] but we are not the only ones,“ said Barrandov Studios spokesperson Tomas Zelazko.

Czech studios are praised for offering value for their money and Czech crews are extremely well trained and sought after yet the tax rebate situation is a hurdle that may just be too high to overcome.

The Bond production could be lost to British studios, as the UK has recently introduced a 25% tax rebate for production money spent in the country. Hungary, also in the running, has a similar system in place and an additional ace up its sleeve, the opening of the new, state-of-the-art Korda Studios outside Budapest on May 1. In addition, Romania offers the most competitive prices in the region.

Local industry professional have long been asking for similar concessions to keep their studios busy but a new film law, which might offer this, will not be brought before Parliament before late October.

According to a 2005 economic impact assessment by consulting firm Olsberg SPI for the Ministry of Culture, foreign productions in Czech Republic in 2004 spent €128m less than the year before.

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