Spain bids to become ‘Hollywood of Europe’

From the gripping crime drama Money Heist to the settings for scenes in Game of Thrones, Spain has been the backdrop for some of the most popular TV and films in recent years.

Now, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wants to build on that success by attracting film investors with tax benefits to make the country the ‘Hollywood of Europe’.

At a meeting with media moguls in Los Angeles, Mr Sánchez outlined a €1.6 billion (£1.37bn) plan to incentivise production houses to base themselves in Spain.

There will also be a fast-track visa system to speed up the entry of film professionals from countries like the US.

“Spain has all the necessary administrative and fiscal incentives, in addition to all possible landscapes, to receive new projects and create new narratives. We aspire to become, if you will allow us to compare, the Hollywood of Europe,” he said during a tour of America.

Mr Sánchez said he hoped to take advantage of Brexit to overtake the United Kingdom in the screen industry.

He cited the decision by the US media conglomerate ViacomCBS, which owns Paramount, to move its production centre from London to Madrid.

“Several cross-border TV providers based in the UK before Brexit have now moved their operations to Spain, including NBC Universal, Sony and Disney, to name just a few,” he said.

This change has ranked Spain second in the European Union, behind Germany, in terms of the most hours of screen fiction produced, said Mr Sánchez,

Mr Sánchez cited the global success of Spanish productions, including Money Heist and hit Netflix school drama Elite. 

The Money Heist on Netflix is another hit series filmed in Spain

He also mentioned foreign productions shot in Spain like Game of Thrones, which has boosted tourism to the Basque Country.

A prequel to Game of Thrones, called House of the Dragon, is due to be filmed later this year in Spain.

Film industry sources consulted by the Telegraph doubted cinema and television companies had quit the UK for Spain specifically because of Brexit.

“What is more likely is that film companies are opening offices in Europe because they want to take advantage of cheaper talent and also to have offices in the European Union,” said one film industry expert.

“Britain is still the most important producer of cinema and television outside the U.S.  But it is true that the Spanish audiovisual industry is booming.“

Spain’s cinematic legacy stretches back to the 1960s, when Clint Eastwood wore a poncho and chewed a trademark cheroot as he played a rogue gunfighter in a series of ‘Spaghetti-Westerns’.

Shot in the desert of Almeria, southern Spain, Sergio Leone’s films like A Fist Full of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly provided gritty Hollywood glamour at a time when Spain was isolated from much of the world during General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

Other classics which have been shot in Spain like Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago, Cleopatra and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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