Hollywood heartthrob Antonio Banderas is in Sofia this month shooting the $25 million crime thriller The Code directed by Mimi Leder at Nu Boyana Film Studios, which itself is in the midst of a $30 million expansion program.
The Spanish actor was on hand Nov. 9 for the official screening of the second film he has directed, Summer Rain, at the 21st Cinemania film festival in Sofia's National Palace of Culture.
"We are not too noisy about Banderas' stay in Sofia because we want to afford him comfort and calm," Nu Boyana's Bulgarian Executive Ilya Sotirov told FNE.
Sotifov said Nu Image, which purchased the former state-owned Boyana studio last year, plans to make it the most active one-stop film studio in Europe in the next two years.
Since 1998 when it made Bridge of Dragons, Nu Image has made 65 films in Bulgaria.
Plans for Nu Boyana call for building over six hectares of sets depicting well-known American and European locations such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Brooklyn, Paris, London and Berlin,
Investment over the next two years will reach $30 million and will pay for 10 new pavilions, modernization of equipment and development of postproduction facilities.
In 2008, Nu Boyana Film will work on more than 20 productions including big-budget titles like Conan, Hercules, Brilliant and others - each with a budget around $40 million, Sotirov said in an interview.
The Bulgarian government recently introduced a 10% flat tax that is expected to attract more international filmmakers.
"The latest governmental decision to introduce flat taxation (10%) next year, as well as the already adopted lower benefit tax (10%), are very encouraging measures and will contribute to the increase of the number of our productions here," Sotirov said.
Shooting for The Code, a story about two jewel thieves that also stars Morgan Freeman, began in New York before switching to Sofia in October. Banderas is in Bulgaria until the end of the shoot in November.