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Blockbuster Star Wars film gets up to €3m tax relief from Irish State

Scenes filmed at Malin Head in Co Donegal and Ceann Sibeal in Co Kerry feature in The Last Jedi.

Image: Vanity Fair/Twitter

THE FORCE IS strong with the producers of the new Star Wars blockbuster movie – when it comes to claiming movie tax relief from the Irish tax authorities.

This is confirmed in new figures released by the Revenue Commissioners showing that Pinewood Productions Ireland Ltd has claimed movie tax relief of between €2m and €3m on the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi from Revenue.

The records show that the Revenue granted the tax relief for The Last Jedi on 27 June of this year.

The production crew for the film shot scenes involving Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker character at Skellig Michael in 2015 while parts of the new film were shot in other Irish locations such as Malin Head in Co Donegal and Ceann Sibeal in Co Kerry.

The tax relief claimed by the production company under Section 481 of the Film Relief Scheme, will however, represent loose change for the anticipated $2 billion (or €1.7 billion) the movie is expected to make at the box office after its much hyped December release.

NY: Disney's Force Friday Star Wars promotion Star Wars merchandise in the Disney store in Times Square. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The first instalment of the new Star Wars Trilogy The Force Awakens had a global box office of just over $2 billion to become the third highest grossing movie of all time – and Disney made a further global bonanza from the sale of tie-in toys from the movie.

The list of productions to receive tax relief under Section 481 in 2017 is provided in a written Dáil reply to Sinn Féin TD Peadar Toibín by the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

Deputy Toibín said yesterday: “I have no doubt that there will be massive payback for Ireland in the investment in the Star Wars movie through the tax relief. Footage from the movie acts as a promotional video for the Wild Atlantic Way.”

The Deputy said that the €2m to €3m claimed in tax relief “represents good value for money for the Irish tax-payer”.

Skellig Michael renovation work The Skelligs. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Deputy Toibín said that the overall Section 481 tax relief system for movies should be reviewed “to ensure that it is leaving an infrastructure for the film industry stronger and a foundation for further development”.

The shooting of the scenes at Skellig Michael has already provided a boost to the Irish tourist industry, particularly in west Kerry.

Skellig Michael features heavily in the first trailer for the new movie and it has been viewed of 40 million times.

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The UNESCO World Heritage site stole the show in the 2015 Force Awakens when Daisy Ridley’s character tracked down Luke Skywalker in the final scene.

Commenting yesterday on the tourism impact of the movie, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of the Wild Atlantic Way, Fiona Monaghan said: “Locals have seen a positive economic benefit in business since the filming of Star Wars, particularly with regard to boat providers, restaurants, pubs and accommodation.

Fáilte Ireland are working with local businesses to capitalise on the location’s increased exposure and we launched a new Visitor Experience Plan for the Skellig Coast area earlier this year.

Electronics Fair IFA Remote-controlled models of robots from the Star Wars movie. Source: Maurizio Gambarini via PA Images

She said: “This new Fáilte Ireland plan aims to bring the Star Wars benefit beyond Skelligs and increase visitor dwell time in the wider region surrounding the iconic attraction. It will also ensure that developments along the local stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way route are compelling and motivating to international visitors.”

The tax relief enjoyed by the Star Wars production was by no means the highest claimed in the first six months of this year.

The Revenue figures show that the makers of Series 5 of Vikings, Metropolitan Films International Ltd received tax relief of between €10m and €30m with the same company’s US martial arts hit series, Into The Badlands receiving tax relief in the same bracket.

In addition, the Dublin based Element Pictures Productions Ltd received tax relief of between €2m and €5m for the fourth series of Ripper Street.

Read: Plans to extend access to the ‘jewel’ in Kerry’s tourism crown have been shot down

Read: We finally know more about The Last Jedi and Ireland

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Gordon Deegan

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