Los Angeles-area movie production took another gut punch a few days ago when news surfaced that the Man of Steel sequel will shoot in Detroit. But now comes a glimmer of good news for locals lamenting runaway production: North Carolina is nearing an end to its tax incentive for filming there. The Wall Street Journal reports that although the Legislature voted in July to fund the program for two more years, it is targeted to end after 2014.
According to the North Carolina Film Office, the Tarheel State is fifth in the nation when it comes to production revenue, trailing only California, New York, Georgia and Louisiana. The state — which offers a 25% refundable tax credit — is coming off back-to-back record years for film production, taking in $376 million in 2012 that created more than 4,100 full-time crew jobs. Last year it hosted shoots for projects including Iron Man 3 and Homeland. “It is amazing to see what has taken place the past two years in North Carolina,” said NC Film Office Director Aaron Syrett said in his 2012 report. “Not only were we able to exceed our record-breaking numbers from 2011, but we continue to grow throughout the state.” But that was in December.
After the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans took control of both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president. And now they, and some Democrats, are saying North Carolina would be better off cutting taxes across the board or giving incentives to manufacturers offering long-term jobs. “We spent $70 million on film incentives last year, and what else could we have done with that $70 million?” said Rep. Mike Hager, the GOP majority whip, told WSJ. “We could have paid more teachers, kept our teacher assistants, given raises to our highway patrol.”
The Hunger Games shot in North Carolina but the state lost the film’s two sequel to Georgia after that state raised its tax credit to a maximum of 30%. (Louisiana recently did the same.) Now North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker is lobbying Republican leaders to maintain at least some incentives, which she says is vital to retaining the state’s film industry.