State agrees to grant €5 million for Nolan movie

Culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa).
Culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The state has agreed to provide €5 million in funding for a Hollywood movie being filmed in Tallinn in June and July.

The movie, "Tenet", directed by Briton Christopher Nolan and starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, has already been the subject of much media attention, both for the publicity it should bring to Estonia and controversy over closing roads for filming scenes.

Thirty percent of costs incurred in Estonia, estimated at around €16 million (the whole movie is budgeted at a reported €200 million) according to regulations need to be reimbursed to the film producer, by Film Estonia, a body which supports the production of feature films in Estonia.

Since the sums involved for "Tenet" are beyond Film Estonia's usual capacity, the government is stepping in to provide the necessary money, via the Ministry of Culture.

"If we did not have a refund system, foreign filmmakers would not bring their money to Estonia, but would choose another country instead, where such support systems exist," said culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa), ERR's Estonian-language Kultuur portal reports.

"This is a tough competition where the race for Nolan's film saw one of the winners being Estonia. Since this is the most cost-effective film production in Estonia so far, the one-time increase in the support scheme is a far-ranging decision. Of course, only the expenses that will be incurred here [in Estonia] will be taken into account; costs relating to the stars of the movie, personnel based elsewhere etc. will not be included," Lukas continued.

The film support scheme was set up in 2016 as a stimulating support measure for the economy, and analysis so far states that every euro invested get a six-fold return.

When issuing this rebate, it was assumed that a film project would Estonian filmmakers, actors and production base, and the film would also be essentially related to Estonia – with "Tenet"'s this is obviously not wholly the case.

As it is an economic recovery measure, in addition to direct tax revenue received by the state budget, indirect and long-term income is also to be taken into account.

Such film industry schemes are reportedly widespread around the world, with almost all EU member states, as well as the countries in both North and South America, supporting their film industries along similar lines.

Filming locations are set to include the Linnahall, Pärnu Highway and adjacent streets, and Laagna Road, a major arterial route running from Kadriorg in central Tallinn, to the residential district of Lasnamäe.

Filming along Pärnu Highway will be subject to restrictions on when it can and can't stop traffic for its scenes, due to be filmed on the last day of June.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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