Budget 2014: Spielberg inspires ‘Tom Cruise clause’ that will bring Hollywood blockbusters here
OSCAR-winning director Steven Spielberg partly inspired the extension of film tax relief aimed at bringing Hollywood blockbusters to Ireland.
The Government is to activate what is known as "the Tom Cruise clause", allowing film producers bringing Hollywood stars here to get tax relief.
In the Budget, the Coalition announced that it was bringing forward the start date of the new film-relief scheme from 2016 to 2015 and extending it to include "non-EU talent".
"It's to attract in the big boys. It costs more but you get the benefit because you're getting in bigger and better projects," a source said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he discussed the issue of tax breaks for film production with Mr Spielberg, the director of 'Jaws', 'ET' and 'Saving Private Ryan'.
The Taoiseach met with the award-winning director and producer earlier this year at Mr Spielberg's personal office at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
Mr Kenny said the blockbusters could often involve thousands of temporary jobs and provide a significant boost to the tourism sector.
"I had the opportunity and privilege to speak to Mr Steven Spielberg about this and the issue was non-EU talent being catered for in film production in Ireland. We are changing to allow it to happen where it can. Ireland holds enormous potential in this area," he said.
A number of changes to the film-relief scheme were introduced in Finance Act 2013.
However, in recent months the Government was receiving calls for some further amendments to the scheme to enable blockbuster Hollywood and Bollywood productions to be filmed in Ireland.
Budget 2014 will change the definition of 'eligible individual' to include non-EU citizens. The move will allow tax relief on this expenditure.
The change has been welcomed by the Irish Film Board and Screen Producers Ireland.
In his Budget speech, Mr Noonan said: "These productions are job-rich and can often give a knock-on boost to the tourism sector. This extension will be subject to EU state-aid approval."
The extension of the definition of 'eligible individual' to include non-EU talent, along with the introduction of a withholding tax, will cost €15m.
Mr Spielberg and his wife, 'Indiana Jones' star Kate Capshaw, met Mr Kenny when they were in Dublin for the European premiere of 'Lincoln' this year.
When he was in the US for his St Patrick's Day trip, the Taoiseach visited a number of locations on the west coast and took the director up on his offer to drop by if he was ever in Los Angeles.
After meeting with the 'Schindler's List' director, Mr Kenny said Mr Spielberg was "keenly interested" in filming in Ireland.
He added: "He is genuinely aware of the potential of Ireland and is keenly interested.
"But it is not a one-way street and I confirmed that Ireland, for our part, would look at the processes that we have and that we would avail, in the best way possible, for the potential of someone as influential as Steven Spielberg."
Mr Spielberg was weighing up a number of Irish-themed films or movies that could be shot in Ireland, but had no plans to return to the country.
Last month, the Irish Film Board was in South Korea seeking to raise funding for Irish film.
On the first visit of its kind to the Asian country, Irish Film Board chairman James Hickey and 'My Left Foot' director Jim Sheridan were seeking to raise investment.
By Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor