Iceland’s wild beauty, tax incentives lure Hollywood producers looking to portray other worlds
When the $7 million movie opened Aug. 30 on 348 screens in the USA, the partially subtitled story of a father bringing his 6-year-old girl from Mexico to Los Angeles barely made the radar of most box-office forecasters. They instead debated whether the boy-band concert film One Direction: This is Us could unseat Lee Daniels’ The Butler as Hollywood’s summer wrapped up over Labor Day. That showdown overshadowed Instructions’ debut of $10.4 million, making it the largest Spanish-language debut for a film in the USA. Since then, Instructions has been nothing short of en fuego at the box office. It hasn’t dropped from the top six in the month and a half since its release, and last weekend it crept up to No. 4. The film has grossed $34.3 million so far and will likely clobber One Direction, which sits at $29 million. “Spanish-language viewers are demonstrating that they are a commercial force,” says Christina L. Sisk, professor of Hispanic studies at the University of Houston and author of Mexico, Nation in Transit: Contemporary Representations of Mexican Migration to the United States. Sisk says that as the Latino population has grown in the USA, the movie industry “also adjusted its approach so as to tap into the consumer potential of this group.” TRAILERS: Coming soon to theaters Indeed, a recent survey by the National Association of Theater Owners finds that Hispanics see more movies every year than any other ethnicity.
And Hollywood is providing the remote North Atlantic island much needed revenue and jobs as well as a touch of glamour as it struggles to emerge from its nationwide banking and currency debacle. The countrys unique environment, along with generous tax incentives, continues to attract some of the biggest Hollywood filmmakers and television producers. Looking for things to do? Select one or more criteria to search Kid-friendly Get ideas The main factor is the incredible landscape that we have, said Einar Sveinn Thordarson, the director of marketing for Pegasus, which provides production services for HBOs Game of Thrones; the hit series has filmed in Iceland three times. Its very unique, and thats what inspires people the most. This summer, about 300 crewmembers spent two weeks at Icelands Thingvellir National Park, shooting for the upcoming fourth season. Game of Thrones producer Chris Newman told Icelandic news website Visir this summer that they were creating the Westeros world in the drama and that Iceland fits the vision for the imaginary continent. Ive been filming here and working here for 25 years working on and off and I know, having driven around so much, that theres so much landscape here to make the show just seem enormous, said Newman. The variety of locations and landscapes is a huge selling point not only for television shows, but also big Hollywood films, said Leifur Dagfinnsson, chairman and founding partner of Truenorth, which has worked on films including The Fifth Estate, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Director Ridley Scott chose Iceland as his alien planet for the 2012 sci-fi film Prometheus, choosing to shoot in Icelands northern highlands. Iceland also hosted a crew of 1,000 people for Clint Eastwoods 2006 war film Flags of Our Fathers. In addition to the wild landscapes, there are financial reasons to shoot in Iceland. Tax incentives lure filmmakers, as the government operates a generous reimbursement program. Visiting film productions could get reimbursed up to 20 percent of their production costs while filming on Icelandic soil, a substantial benefit on films costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.
21 at the Beverly Hilton, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. (The Hollywood Film Awards is owned by affiliates of THR parent company Guggenheim Partners.) our editor recommends PHOTOS: 30 Years of Oscar Hosts: Johnny Carson, Seth MacFarlane, Ellen Roberts, a youthful 45, has been a star for a quarter-century already. Since her big screen breakthrough in Donald Petrie’s Mystic Pizza (1988), she has headlined Herbert Ross’ Steel Magnolias (1989), Garry Marshall’s Pretty Woman (1990), Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991), Alan J. Pakula’s The Pelican Brief (1993), Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins (1996), P.J. Hogan’s My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), Roger Michell’s Notting Hill (1999), Marshall’s Runaway Bride (1999), Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich (2000), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and Ocean’s Twelve (2004), Mike Nichols’ Closer (2004) and Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Tony’s Gilroy’s Duplicity (2009), Marshall’s Valentine’s Day (2010) and Ryan Murphy’s Eat Pray Love (2010). Roberts was most recently seen in — and received strong reviews for — her supporting performance in John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. The film’s star-studded cast also includes Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard and Misty Upham. The film will be released nationwide by The Weinstein Co. on Christmas Day. VIDEO: The Men of ‘August: Osage County’ Marvel at Meryl Streep’s Acting and Home Cooking The Hollywood Film Awards are determined by founder and executive director Carlos de Abreu and an advisory committee. Last month, the Hollywood Film Awards and Dick Clark Productions, which also produced the Golden Globe Awards, entered into a partnership that could lead to the ceremony being televised in future years. Over the past 10 years, Hollywood Film Awards honorees went on to garner a total of 96 Oscar nominations and 34 Oscars. De Abreu tells THR, It is a privilege to honor Julia Roberts for her brilliant and passionate performance in August: Osage County. Julia continues to shine as one of Hollywoods most gifted actresses.” Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottFeinberg for additional news and analysis.