Screen Talk: Tax credit relief

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The Independent Culture

California and the state's movie and TV industries breathed a sighed of relief after the state greenlit an extension to its film and tax credit programme.

It will now operate to the end of the 2014/2015 tax year, an extra 12 months. It's vital to Hollywood and beyond that California remains a competitively viable place to shoot movies and the tax credits help. Introduced to counter the growing trend for film-makers to shoot in places such as Canada – so called runaway productions – the credit provides about $100m in tax credits to film and TV productions. Like the Californian economy, the film and TV numbers are big. One study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) showed that the first two years of the tax credits from 2009 generated $3.8bn in economic activity state wide, created more than 20,000 jobs and over $200m in tax revenues. And a few films were made on the way.

Bargain hunters

Scandinavia may be plunging into winter, but the region is hot in Hollywood right now largely due to the success of Stieg Larsson's Millennium books and the movies. Now Headhunters, by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo (above left), is to get the English-language retread (there's already been a Norwegian version named Hodejegerne) so beloved of Hollywood. Summit Entertainment, the company behind the Twilight franchise, has snapped up remake rights to the novel. In the book, a corporate headhunter running a scheme to steal artwork from the homes of his applicants ends up pulled into murder when his latest heist goes bad.

Female director for the return of Thor

Marvel Studios plans to bring the feminine touch to the blood and thunder of Thor 2. The studio has ensnared the services of Patty Jenkins for the sequel. And she will also enjoy the acting chops of some of the cast from the first outing with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Natalie Portman (above centre) all returning. Jenkins will be the first female director for Marvel Studios. The reason for a follow-up? The original, directed by Kenneth Branagh, hammered out $65m from its US opening weekend before going on to make $448m worldwide. Jenkins is most well known for directing 2003's Monster, which garnered Charlize Theron an Oscar.

Animation king

There was no ad but if there were it would certainly have read experience essential, knowledge of cartoons preferred. Paramount scored a bit of a coup with the hire of Disney veteran David Stainton to head up Paramount's new in-house animation division, launched this summer. Stainton knows his way around animators and the like having risen to the post of president of Walt Disney Feature Animation during a 17-year stint with the so-called Mouse House. While there, he handled Disney's transition to fully digital animation production and oversaw the studio's animation facility in Paris. He'll be tasked with drawing out more hits such as Rango, Paramount's CGI animated Western that grossed more than $240m worldwide.

Back in the saddle

It was all off but now Disney's Lone Ranger project is back in the saddle. A month or so ago, the studio stabled the project saying the original budget of $250m was too high. It's been cut down to $215m with talk of fee reductions for star Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski. Disney has now set a May 2013 release date for the off and now on movie. The studio, according to those in the know in Hollywood, is keen to stay on side with Depp, Bruckheimer and Verbinski, the trio who have collaborated together previously on the lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Performers – behind and in front of the camera but especially at the box office – have always been looked after by the studios as long as they are producing the hits.