SOHO SHOPS WORK
MAGIC FROM PIX BOOST
Copyright 2002 www.variety.com
[ October 28th 2002 ]
may continue to be the epicenter for the feature
f/x biz, but British facilities are beginning
to carve out some considerable turf. London-based
f/x houses the Mill, Cinesite Europe, the Moving
Picture Co., Framestore CFC, Freeze Frame and
Double Negative, among others, have been on a
roll the past two years. They've managed to lure
some of Hollywood's pricier pics, including $100
million studio franchises such as Warner Bros.'
"Harry Potter" and Paramount's "Tomb Raider,"
as well as ongoing work on MGM's stalwart James
Bond series, with "Die Another Day" the latest
f/x shots for Fox's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,"
Disney/Spyglass' "Shanghai Knights" and Intermedia's
"Mindhunters" have been awarded to Soho shops.
That follows a busy 2001, when U.K. facilities
had several big projects in town including "Cats
& Dogs," "Black Hawk Down," "Hannibal," "K-19:
The Widowmaker" and HBO's miniseries "Band of
Brothers." "Without a doubt, the (British f/x)
industry is going through another year of scaling
up in size," says Robin Shenfield, CEO of the
Mill. "Last year was a busy year for all of us.
This year is turning out to be a similarly busy
helped are British tax incentives that call for
productions to spend 70% of their budgets in the
U.K. But it's also a double-edged sword, given
London's facilities are having a hard time landing
films whose characters or locations don't feature
an English accent.
same time, most studio projects that do flow into
Soho are being divided up among the shops. Given
the size of some of the projects like "Potter"
and Bond, facilities could be awarded shots that
amount to $5 million to $7 million in revenue.
While U.S. powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic
is the lead f/x house on "Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets," several shots were farmed
out to Cinesite, the Mill, Framestore CFC and
MPC. "It's a good thing," says Cinesite CEO Colin
Brown. "I'd like to have every movie that comes
into town, but these are big enough projects for
all of us to work on. We've had bits of 'Harry
Potter' to do that makes us ecstatic and still
allows us to show off our digital character capabilities."
limited to bidding on European-bound productions
isn't a bad thing either -- as long as the projects
keep on coming. Roughly 18 films will hit the
U.K.'s shores in the next year. Film producers
are already chatting up megabudget pics that have
been given the greenlight, including Warners'
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," and
the sword-and-sandals epics "Troy," "Alexander
the Great" and "Hannibal." Working Title/Universal's
"Thunderbirds," Par's "Around the World in 80
Days," HBO's "Arthur" and Morgan Creek's prequel
to "The Exorcist" also are heading for Europe.
look good through 2005," Brown says. "Everybody
who's interested in doing something in Europe
is coming through this town and they have a fairly
open mind about placing their projects here.