Francis Ford Coppola eyes ruined Alicante film studios

Director part of group of US investors thought to be interested in buying Ciudad de Luz site

Francis Ford Coppola at Ciudad de la Luz in 2008.
Francis Ford Coppola at Ciudad de la Luz in 2008.Joaquín de Haro

Film director Francis Ford Coppola is eyeing Alicante’s much-troubled Ciudad de la Luz movie studios, which have been inactive since February 2013.

The man behind classics such as Apocalypse Now and The Godfather is the best-known name in a group of US investors offering to take on the €80 million debt of a complex that was born with the aim of becoming a European Hollywood and finished up in complete ruin.

The studios, a hulk of sets constructed on a site overlooking the sea on the outskirts of Alicante, are currently the property of the Valencia regional government after it invested €274 million in the site. However, they are unable to be sold without the permission of the European Commission (EC) after the European General Court ruled the regional government’s investment an act of unfair competition and ordered it to take back the money. The decision left no other option but for the complex to be sold off.

Despite their disastrous management, the studios have always been praised by those who worked there

Coppola and the other investors in the group are pursuing a pre-agreement that positions them first in the line of potential buyers – which also include groups representing British, German and Asian interests that have visited the site – once the EC sorts out the conditions of sale. The tender could be ready by January and the public auction of the site made effective by the summer.

Meanwhile, the Valencia government remains cautious, admitting it has received inquiries, but not confirming any concrete offers.

Despite their disastrous management, the studios – a dream project of Spanish director Luis García Berlanga – have always been praised by the professionals who worked there. Barely a few weeks ago, Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, who has filmed in Alicante on a number of occasions, said it would be “mad” to close the studios.

More than 60 films and multiple series have been filmed at Ciudad de la Luz, including Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona’s tsunami-drama The Impossible, which starred Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.

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