That Good Night (2017)

€1 billion deal to bring major film and TV productions to Algarve

A €1 billion deal to bring major film and television productions to the Algarve throughout the next seven years has been announced this week.

The deal was signed between APX Group, a European-American New York-based film and media fund, and Portugal’s Moviebox Group, which is building a “state-of-the-art” production studio (Moviebox Studios) in Loulé which it vows will become “the largest film and television production centre in Europe.”

Phase 2 & 3 pre-vis concept (MBX entrance)

Together they have created a “joint-venture subsidiary held in equal partnership between APX and Moviebox.”

Says a statement released by the groups, “the division shall have an overall budget of one billion euros over seven years dedicated to investing in productions with the ability to produce content from Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula.”

“All projects are to be completed as co-productions with the ability to also utilise the network of facilities held within the APX Group across Europe, United States and the UK,” it adds.

“The structure of the financing will be streamlined through the newly formed JV company and shall be day to day managed by APX’s United Kingdom division Herd International Productions due to the current close production and business ties between the United Kingdom and Portugal,” the statement also says.

The new venture will be managed at the helm by Julian Hicks of Moviebox and Herd’s Shelley Hammond, with additional close support from Herd execs Ben Dillon, Iggy Ellis and Hollie Richmond.

Actor Colm Meaney playing author Jonathan Stack in There’s Always Hope (2021)

A starting budget of €300 million has been allocated “for the sole use of film and television projects” for the next two years, to be then followed by a further €700 million the following five years.

Said Moviebox Studios’ Head Julian Hicks: “We are absolutely delighted to be creating this massive JV with APX and embark on this tremendous journey. We all share a common drive to create both Film and Episodic Content which resonates with the world today.

“Moviebox, along with its strategic partners, is developing an extraordinary, state-of-the-art production and postproduction facilities in the Algarve and an ambitious phase 2 expansion plan that will turn this facility into the largest film and television production center in Europe,” Hicks said.

Phase 2 & 3 pre-vis concept (Water stage green screen)

“This €1 billion investment by both APX and Moviebox shall attract major projects to Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula to use the current facilities and the ones being expanded and developed, along with wide range of locations the Algarve and Portugal have to offer. We are more than excited to be partnering with APX in our shared desire to develop film and TV content. We are certain that this partnership will. Take both parties forward in giant steps when it comes to the production of great films.”

Meanwhile, Shelley Hammond from Herd/APX said this deal is “hugely exciting for not only the parties involved – but also for the global production community.

The Infernal Machine (2022 – yet to be released)

“Julian’s team at Moviebox are creating something incredibly special which will give home to many groundbreaking productions over the coming years. APX and Herd are beyond thrilled to be part of this journey.”

The Resident contacted Moviebox, which confirmed that “even more exciting news” is on the way “very soon” although it cannot reveal anything else at the moment.

Moviebox has been involved in the production of films which were at least partially shot in the Algarve, such as ‘That Good Night’, a 2017 film which featured Sir John Hurt in his last starring role which was mostly shot in Loulé, and ‘There’s Always Hope’, a 2021 film starring Colm Meaney and Kate Ashfield. The latest Moviebox production which has yet to be released is ‘The Infernal Machine’.

The Infernal Machine (2022 – yet to be released)

Portugal – a new filming haven?

Portugal’s reputation as a destination for international film and television productions is growing by the year.

There have been almost weekly reports about the filming of ‘Fast X’, the latest instalment in the ‘Fast & Furious’ blockbuster franchise, in several locations across Portugal – from the northern and central districts of Vila Real and Viseu to Almada near Lisbon.

‘House of the Dragon’ – the highly-anticipated prequel show to HBO’s global TV phenomenon ‘Game of Thrones’ – also chose Portugal to film several scenes in the Portuguese medieval village of Monsanto in Idanha-a-Nova.

There’s Always Hope (2021)

These are just two of the most notorious examples of major productions which have been attracted by Portugal’s unique landscapes.

In 2019, the Portuguese government created the Portugal Film Commission with four clearly established goals:

  • Promoting synergies between the creative industries and tourism
  • Providing visibility to Portugal as a destination and improving the tourist experience
  • Affirming Portugal as an international filming destination
  • Communicating with regional film commissions, the diplomatic network and industry association and companies

The film commission was due to be dismantled in May 2022, but its mission was recently extended until December 2022.

A source from the Ministry of Culture said this will “allow a strategic reflection about what Portugal’s position should be as a destination for cinema and audiovisual productions, with evident contributions to the economy and sustainability of the country’s tourism sector.”

There’s Always Hope (2021)

In May, a source from the Cinema and Audiovisual Institute said that it was planning “a solution” to meet the “huge demand” for Portugal as a filming destination because it had exhausted this year’s budget for tax incentives for foreign productions.

The source added that there were 43 applications for tax incentives for filming in Portugal under the Fund to Support Tourism and Cinema, exceeding the maximum ceiling of €12 million budgeted for 2022.

“This high number of applications shows the interest for this financial mechanism, along with the return of the cinema sector’s activity” compared to 2020 and 2021, the pandemic years which saw a large decrease in filming, said the source.

Article updated on August 11

By Michael Bruxo

michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com