A rider on a roaring motorcycle eludes his pursuers on the deck of a Greek navy warship?
Fortunately, this is a fantastic action-adventure scene from The Expendables 4 starring Jason Statham, Megan Fox, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren, which is set to begin filming in Greece on October 30, according to producer Robert Van Norden.
And the ship? This is the work of a construction team in Thessaloniki and part of a set built by Millennium Media on a 8.3 hectare private plot in Thessaloniki suburb of Thermi.
The American production company will also be building Greece’s first studio to meet Hollywood standards in 2022, according to sources. This is a € 20 million investment that signals Greece’s recent awakening to the benefits of a lucrative film industry. Thanks to the introduction of cash discounts, Greece is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for international production, which cannot be said about its infrastructure, in short, about the studios, the absence of which puts the country at a disadvantage. This means that producers either have to rely on existing studios in the country, which are less than 10, and they are all built for television, or arrange filming in natural conditions, which is fraught with difficulties and problems, the key of which is the weather.
Together with post-production companies and all other factors associated with film production, such installations complement the participation of players in the industry with one of the highest economic multiplier effects. A study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) estimates that if Greece could host 20 low-budget films a year, each worth € 450,000, it would see a gross domestic product increase of € 14.2 million.
It has also been estimated that € 25 million spent on production in Greece would increase GDP by € 39 million and create 755 jobs during filming. The economic benefits will only increase when you consider the impact on tourism of the incredible advertising space generated by filming films.
New legislation in parliament aimed at improving the investment environment takes these factors into account, identifying investments in film studios as strategic and providing them with tax breaks, zoning and other bonuses. It is a tool that has already generated interest in setting up film studios.
“The largest foreign production in Greece was worth 3.5 million euros. Prior to that, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was the most expensive film shot in Greece in the 1990s with a budget of 6.5 million euros, and for the famous musical Mama Mia! “Only € 1.5 million was spent,” says Panos Kuanis, President and CEO of the National Center for Audiovisual Media and Communication (EKOME).
“After making improvements, in the midst of the pandemic, to the legal framework with cash rebates, the number of filmmakers in Greece has increased dramatically. In 2021, more than 10 films were shot in Greece with a budget of 8 to 20 million euros, and this does not include small productions, costing from 500,000 to 4.5 million euros, ”he adds.
Kuanis argues that demand for audiovisual content, as well as the infrastructure and services that go into production, has skyrocketed worldwide. He mentions Hungary, whose studios are booked by Disney for the next five years.
“This structure includes significant mobility from many Greek and foreign businessmen who are interested in investing in film studios, post-production and training centers in Greece. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this great interest will manifest itself in practice, ”says Kuanis.
Greek firm Faliro House Productions has also highlighted the need for film studios and, according to sources, is interested in making such investments using existing tools, such as placing studios in the strategic investment category.
In the photo: the boys are back. Second from left, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and Harrison Ford ride an armored car during a photo shoot for The Expendables 3 at the 67th Cannes International Film Festival in southern France in 2014. The final sequel for filming in Greece is set to start on October 30th. [AP]