There were a total of 36 scouting visits from foreign film productions exploring the use of Malta as a set during the first 10 months of 2022, according to Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo.
The Minister was replying to a series of parliamentary questions about the local film production and servicing industry posed by fellow Labour MP and former Mosta mayor Romilda Baldacchino Zarb.
He also noted that while between 2008 and 2012 there had been a total of 43 foreign productions shot in Malta, a decade later, between 2018 and 2022, these had increased to 95.
Asked about the performance of Jurassic World: Dominion, one of the largest blockbusters ever filmed in Malta, Minister Bartolo referred to IMDb’s Box Office Mojo in his response, saying that it was the 49th all-time top grossing film in the US. Worldwide, it stands in 51st place.
The latest instalment of the beloved dinosaur franchise was the second-highest grossing movie of the year, with only Tom Cruise’s return for a long-awaited Top Gun sequel generated more revenue.
The Minister also touched on the industry’s plans for the future, noting that the Planning Authority a few weeks ago approved the building permit for the “first sound stages” in Malta, which will consist of a “super stage” of 40,000 square feet and another stage to complement it.
Independent candidate Arnold Cassola has contested the claim that this sound stage is the first to be built locally, digging up a newspaper article from 1969 about a sound stage then built at Spinola Fort.
A number of ancillary facilities will also be built as part of the new sound stage, including workshops, offices, prop stores, multi-purpose car park and various attractions.
“This project, which is part of the Malta Film Studios masterplan, is the biggest infrastructural investment in the film industry in Malta’s history,” he said, “and will create careers for everyone who wants to be part of this sector so important for Maltese economy.”
The questions were ostensibly a pointed response to recent criticism from local producers who have complained that the funds allocated to them have yet to be disbursed, leaving them in production limbo and calling into question the Government’s commitment to the native industry.
Their concerns were thrown into relief when prospective Nationalist MEP candidate Peter Agius highlighted a discrepancy between the Budget 2023’s allocation for foreign film incentives, standing at €11 million, and the sum the Government told the EU it is ready to spend, standing at €50 million.
A Ministry spokesperson responded to the furor by stating that “if this happens, it would ultimately mean that the sector is growing, more quality jobs are created and the film sector is supporting the country’s economic growth through high-end value investment.”
In Parliament, Minister Bartolo also pointed out that between 2008 and 2012, during the last Nationalist administration, under €1 million was allocated ot the domestic film fund, whereas the current fund stands at €600,000 a year.
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