“The rumors are true,” a North Carolina TV station announced when the governor flew to the hometown movie studio to break the news this past week. “Tony Stark and the third installment of the Iron Man movie franchise will fly into Wilmington.” Great news for North Carolina maybe but for the Los Angeles movie and TV community it felt like a punch in the gut. Thanks to the state’s generous 25% production credit, North Carolina’s EUE/Screen Gems Studios sealed the deal. Manhattan Beach-based Marvel Studios considered making the third movie in Los Angeles just like the first two, but the 25% credit proved too hard to resist. California has a 25% credit — which excludes big budget studio productions. Marvel also considered Michigan and New Mexico but North Carolina won out because of the size of the facility as well as the tax credit.
“We aggressively pursued this piece of business,” said EUE/Screen Gems Co-Owner and COO Chris Cooney. “We negotiated hard, and it paid off.” EVP Bill Vassar pointed out that in addition to Screen Gems’ 10 sound stages the area has a large local crew base with experience handling five productions simultaneously. Iron Man 3 is expected to pump about $80 million into the local economy. “This is a great day for North Carolina,” Gov. Bev Perdue boasted. Not so great for Los Angeles, though. “Five-hundred-fifty jobs, all the other sub-jobs, the construction jobs, that’s what it’s all about to us here locally.” In addition to Iron Man 3, Perdue cited Hunger Games and a lot of other movies and TV work currently and recently all over North Carolina. “The film tax credit made a real difference.”
Too make matters worse, at a time when many other states, not just North Carolina, are aggressively pursuing location shoots, California’s tax credit program was extended after only one year because the Legislature didn’t think the financially strapped state could afford originally proposed five-year version.
L.A. wasn’t the only city that got this kind of news recently. NBC Sports announced that it was moving out of its longtime home at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan about 35 miles away to Stamford, Conn., to take advantage of tax incentives. Connecticut offers tax credits from 10% up to 30% depending on a production’s budget.
Iron Man 3, which North Carolina officials say will be the state’s biggest production yet, is expected to set up shop in Wilmington for about 10 months starting after the first of the year.