In his opening remarks at Sunday's screening of the British period comedy Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Focus Features CEO James Schamus described the challenge of filming in Europe with the falling dollar as "that Sophie's Choice between ordering a pizza or paying for your kids' college education." We caught up with Schamus later in the Tribeca Grand lobby and asked him to elaborate. "Well, everything on the menu [in London] has the same number next to it as you have in a restaurant in New York," he told us, laughing. "It's just double the price."
The Miss Pettigrew shoot was born during sunnier economic times, Schamus told us. "At the end of the day, we commenced the commitment to this film under a very different paradigm, before George Bush blew out the American dollar and the economy. And so he really has not been too friendly to those of us who like to make movies around the world." On top of that, he says, the U.K. changed the tax deals for movie shoots just as the company green-lit the picture. "It killed us," Schamus said. "They used to have wonderful tax incentives, and those are all gone."
He declined to talk numbers but said that Focus is determined to continue to work overseas despite the disastrous exchange rate. "We love making movies in the U.K. and in Europe," Schamus said. "I don't know who we're going to have to hold hostage in order to make the next one over there, but we're trying." —Bennett Marcus