Ireland is on the brink of a victory that would have made Mary Queen of Scots proud — by beating Britain in a battle for a new Hollywood blockbuster.
The €20m Mary Queen of Scots film, starring Scarlett Johansson (22) in the lead role, could be the first major movie success to be shot here since King Arthur five years ago.
The ailing Irish film industry got a serious boost recently when Showtime’s high rating prime-time drama The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, was located here.
Ardmore Studios has already been overrun by 16th Century troops in pantaloons wielding crossbows and will not need too much help to adapt to a new influx.
It is understood that the co-producer of the The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Element Pictures, is in high level talks about the film locating in Ireland.
Picturesque Birr Castle in Offaly is rumoured to be one of the potential locations for the 16th Century drama.
‘Mary Queen of Scots’ was scheduled to start shooting in London and Scotland before the tempting tax breaks on offer here caught the eye of makers Warner Independent Pictures.
The lure of Ireland’s generous cash incentives compared favourably with the far less attractive terms on offer in the UK to the Johansson film crew, a fact that was not ‘lost in translation’ by the British press.
Now it is highly likely that the UK will be axed from the American producers’ wish list for the film about the beheaded queen.
A Scottish newspaper reported that last-ditch talks between the makers and film agency Scottish Screen were unlikely to prevent it transferring to Ireland.
It said the makers planned to go to Ireland to get 10pc tax relief and Scottish Screen was working frantically to try and find a way to match that.
“‘There is no way we could match the financial incentives they can get,” it said.
Directed by James Curran, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ will tell the tale of the Catholic ruler who was beheaded when she was 42 for trying to take the English throne from her Protestant cousin Elizabeth I.
According to the promoters, the movie will see Mary “battle political enemies, scheming allies, and affairs of the heart in her quest to reunite the warring tribes of her native Scotland”.
It is understood that Johansson’s mother, Melanie, will co-produce the film.