While neighboring countries are looking to cash in on lucrative Hollywood film budgets and lure international productions, Greece continues to push them away.
The producers of the yet-unnamed fifth installment of the Bourne spy series starring Matt Damon decided to abandon Greece and instead transform Tenerife (Spain’s Canary Islands) into Athens.
Complete with anti-austerity demonstrations, Greek yogurt billboards, fake Greek police busses and numerous other touch ups, sections of the Spanish city were transformed into central Athens. Even fake Greek graffiti was spray-painted on fake Greek phone booths.
Unlike many other EU countries and Mediterranean nations, Greece does not extend tax breaks for locally-filmed productions.
Greece’s former culture minister Nikos Xydakis confirmed that the production had been turned away from filming in Greece because a tax-break structure for films doesn’t exist. He mad the comments on Skai TV and confirmed that what exists (tax breaks for film productions) in other countries, doesn’t exist in Greece.
Xydakis claimed that he had begun drafting legislation for film production tax breaks but was cut short when the government of Alexis Tsipras resigned. Previous governments have all made such claims, including the creation of a “film commission” to lure international productions. But these claims by Greek bureaucrats have never materialized.
Matt Damon is reprising his role as the CIA operative, along with Julia Stiles. The city is doubling as Athens for the film, with Greek posters, signs and cars being placed in and around the filming area.
Over a 1000 locals have been cast as extras in the movie, which is generating nearly €250,000 a day to the city in direct and indirect cash benefits, including restaurants, hotels and various services required by the massive film crew.
Filming is expected to last 6 weeks in the “Spanish Athens” and will generate millions for the local economy.