MAJOR Hollywood film producers scouted locations in Limerick recently for the purposes of shooting a $120m budget film here, the Limerick Leader can reveal.
Philip Lee, a producer on the Dark Knight and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, visited Limerick recently with a group of producers and he is understood to be “seriously considering” locating new multi-million dollar sci-fi movie Inversion here.
This comes as Limerick City and County Council come close to “finalising negotiations” on the purchase of the old Dell building in Castletroy - a 350,000 square foot facility that it hopes to develop into a major film and television production studio in tandem with Ardmore Studios.
The film producers - understood to be keen to base several big-budget productions here in tandem with a major Hollywood studio - came to Limerick on a “low key visit” and spent the weekend here. The group visited locations around the region, including scouting trips to the building - known as the Culture Factory - and Shannon Airport.
Inversion, due out in 2016, is to be directed by Scott Waugh, whose last movie Need for Speed grossed $200m worldwide. The sci-fi action movie deals with life on earth being threatened by a gradual loss of gravity.
Finance minister Michael Noonan, who was a prime mover in the deal to set up a studio at the former Dell production facility, confirmed to this newspaper that he had “recently met with a US film company who are interested in using the old Dell plant as a film location.
“While the building may need some modifications, its scale and location make it generally suitable for filming of large scale projects,” he said. “In the last Budget I expanded the tax incentives for film and television production. The changes have had the desired effect and have been welcomed by the industry with US film companies are seeing Ireland as a suitable and cost effect filming location. I will keep the relief under review ahead of the next Budget and if I can make further improvements, I will do so,” he added.
The local authority, through its company Innovate Limerick, which has been actively marketing Limerick as a film location, is said to be “in final negotiations” on the deal to acquire the building from owner PJ Noonan, who is understood to be keen to see the building used to create employment in the region.
“We are close to finalising negotiations and we expect negotiations to be completed shortly. We are doing everything we can do to facilitate it,” said a council spokesperson this Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Ardmore Studios - co-owner Ossie Kilkenny of which has been down a number of times to view the facility, meeting with PJ Noonan - said there was “nothing to say at the moment, no comment”.
However, the Leader understands that the collaborative plans between Ardmore and the council to build a major studio in the area are still in the running and are continuing apace as the deal looks to close on the facility.
Ardmore CEO Siún Ní Raghallaigh confirmed to this newspaper in mid-March that she was engaged in a “continuous process and one that is developing positively” with the local authority on the plans, which would have a massive economic impact on the region.
Simon McGuire, LIT lecturer in video production and director of the Limerick Film Festival said the Ardmore plan and the potential for film productions to base here would be “massive, it would put Limerick and the Mid West on the map.
“From our point of view as independent film makers in Limerick, we are salivating at the idea of this,” he added.