In a study released today on feature film production in California in 2013, FilmL.A. has added its voice to the chorus wanting an increase to the entertainment industry tax incentives the Golden State offers. While the opinion is nothing new for the nonprofit local-permitting organization, the basis of its latest argument is: We need more blockbusters. According to FilmL.A.’s 6-months-in-the-making report, California is tied for second place with the entire country of Canada for the location where most feature films released last year were made. Introduced in 2009, California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program does not allow pics with budgets of more than $75 million to be eligible for its annual lottery. “For a program intended to help reverse runaway production, California’s incentive entirely ignores film projects carrying the greatest economic value with the greatest propensity to run away: big‐budget features,” says the 2013 Feature Film Production Report. Even with an increase in overall feature production in California last year, the only 2014-released pics with budgets of more than $100 million that were partly made in the state are Interstellar and Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Solder. Removing the cap on blockbusters is one of the elements of new legislation introduced on to expand the state’s program.
“State policymakers have the opportunity to make a difference this year by expanding California’s film and television tax credit,” said FilmL.A. President Paul Audley with the release of the report today. “We hope they give the strongest possible signal to the film industry that they want to keep film jobs in California.”
The FilmL.A. study reports a sharp fall for Hollywood from its near-peak dominance of 15 years ago. Back in 1999, just after Canada had started introducing incentives to attract production, 64% of the top 25 live-action pics made in California. Today, as incentives are in almost every state and many countries, that hold is just 8%, with only two major 2013 blockbusters (Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hangover Part III) being made here. The study says that the Golden State and our northern neighbor had 15 movies each made in their borders of the notable pics that came out last year. Tax incentive-rich Louisiana was number No. 1 with 18 pics, while the UK was third with 12 and Georgia fifth with 9. In terms of live-action films, California was fourth behind New Orleans, Canada and Britain. The dense and wide-ranging study examined 108 films that came out in 2013 from the likes of Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, NBCUniversal, Paramount and 20th Century Fox plus the Weinstein Company, DreamWorks, Lionsgate, FilmDistrict and Relativity.