So a portion of this piece from Variety, on the German government’s decision to help fund United Artists’ Valkyrie — a rooted-in-truth drama, directed by Bryan Singer, about an assassination plot against Adolf Hitler during World War II — struck me as interesting. The project has already been in the news, of course, due to the government turning down the production’s repeated entreaties to shoot at an actual historical location, all owing to Cruise’s beliefs as a Scientologist, which the German government views as totalitarian.
What I don’t get, I guess, is how the government’s $80 million annual federal film fund — $6.5 million of which will go to Valkyrie — doles out its kitty. Production incentives and enormous tax rebates are one thing, and totally old hat, part of the game of luring Hollywood flicks abroad, but chipping in cash on a foreign production would seem to be the role of an investor, no? What, exactly, does the government get for its money? I know production money then flows back to local economies via catering, room and board, local artisans, etcetera, but how does it benefit German filmmakers or fans to throw that kind of money at a Hollywood flick?
Meanwhile, if the grant — which exceeds the total cost of most German
features — seems generous, it’s not the biggest of the year. In April, the same government agency put up $12.3
million for Warner Bro.’s Speed Racer, starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci and Matthew Fox, which is currently shooting at
Studio Babelsberg just outside of Berlin.