The brainchild of director and chairman of EuropaCorp, Luc Besson, Cite du Cinema is part of an effort in France to compete with similar, large film complexes throughout Europe, The New York Times reported Sunday. The complex was built in a renovated former power plant in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis.
"We built this site for French films but especially for the big American productions that generally go to Italy, to Luxembourg, to Switzerland or to England, but never to France, because we didn't have the tools to accommodate them," Besson said in an email.
"I've worked a lot with American actors," he added. "I know how the studios operate. We have the best technicians in the world, and now we have the most beautiful stages as well."
Besson said the $230 million Cite du Cinema project -- home to Studios de Paris, EuropaCorp and a film school -- was born out of frustration he had trying to find a shooting location in France for his 1997 film "The Fifth Element."
There were no facilities in France large enough for the action-packed, science fiction feature, causing him to set up production at Pinewood Studios in Britain.