Arts & Entertainment

Puerto Rico on road to becoming film production mecca

By Alfonso Rodriguez

San Juan, Dec 7 (EFE).- Leveraging tax incentives and the lure of its tropical and historical locales, Puerto Rico has served as a shooting location for installments of heavyweight Hollywood franchises Pirates of the Caribbean and Fast and Furious and now is aspiring to become a global film production mecca.

That United States commonwealth has already attracted 72 film productions since 2019 that represented $1.1 billion in economic activity and led to the creation of 9,600 jobs, providing a vital contribution to a Caribbean island that has been in recession for more than a decade.

The island has a privileged climate for year-round filming, according to the director of Puerto Rico’s Film Industry Development Program (PDIC), Rosi Acosta, who told Efe that its use of the dollar as currency and intellectual protection laws identical to those in the US also are a source of confidence for producers.

Puerto Rican authorities have the goal of attracting film production companies from all over the world, including Europe, although US-based companies are their priority due to their size, proximity and common legal framework.

Tax incentives offered to film productions include a production tax credit equivalent to 40 percent of the payments made to Puerto Rico-resident companies and individuals.

An additional 15 percent production tax credit is available for certain co-production contracts signed with a Puerto Rican company.

“Puerto Rico has all the elements for there to be a sustainable industry,” Acosta said. “The only thing we need is the movie studio infrastructure, but we’re hoping to have that completed once and for all.”

The island has served as a shooting location for films such as “Fast and Furious 5,” in which the action supposedly occurring on the streets of Rio de Janeiro in fact took place in the downtown San Juan district of Santurce.

The Old San Juan fortress of Castillo San Cristobal, meanwhile, was used as a substitute for the exterior of a Spanish fortress in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the second-to-last film of that fantasy swashbuckler saga.

Luillo Ruiz, the chief executive officer and owner of The Pimienta Film Co., Puerto Rico’s largest film production entity, told Efe that the cinema sector draws a large amount of money to the cash-strapped US commonwealth and is also a significant job creator.

“Each of our productions employs between 700 and 1,500 people, at least 85 percent of whom are Puerto Rican,” Ruiz said. EFE

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