In fact, the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation submitted Rent Live! received $2.7 million off the $52.2 million that the Golden State handed out to 19 separate incentive recipients on Monday. With the Margot Robbie led Harley Quinn spinoff Birds of Prey leading the pack with $12.6 million in tax credits, the January 27 debuting Rent was seventh overall in terms of the amount it snagged in what is presumed to be a big screen only round.
With the small screen seeing big bucks too since Gov. Jerry Brown signed an expansion to $330 million annually of the state’s 2009 introduced incentives program into law in 2014, something may seem a little off in a TV broadcast one-off being able to successfully dip into credits designated for features.
Of course, that depends on how you define what is and isn’t a feature. A debate that hits real world regulations when you take a look at the state’s recently extended tax credit program’s very specific and very 21st century definition of what constitutes a feature film.
“Due to new distribution patterns, particularly for feature films, in the Program 2.0 regulations, a feature film is defined as ‘a production of a film intended for commercial distribution to a motion picture theater, directly to the home video market or via the internet that has a running time of at least seventy-five minutes in length,’” the CFC’s tax credit program director Nancy Rae Stone told Deadline this afternoon. “In AB1839, the legislation, the minimum production budget for a feature film is set at $1 million,” she added. “Projects that meet these parameters, minimum $1 million, distribution via the internet, and the running time provision, qualify in the feature film category.”
In case you are wondering, Rent Live! isn’t the first TV offering that has received feature film tax credits from the state of California. Actually it’s happened before in the past four years for Fox. The also Platt EP’d Grease: Live applied as a MOW but 2017’s A Christmas Story: The Musical Live! was awarded tax credits in the film category. The latter received $1.4 million in incentives just under a year ago when the CFC announced the results of the relevant allocation round.
While it may seem head scratching at first, it actually makes a lot of sense if the full CFC definition of a feature that Stone asserts is considered. Also, on a practical level, the TV category substantially more subscribed to by applicants than the film category with a growing list of relocating series and other recipients. So, trying to snare incentives in the film category is a deft play by some productions if they can jump through all the hoops of the employment centric program.
A deftness the no commenting today Fox surely wants to see on a number of fronts for Rent Live!
The Pulitzer and Tony winning Rent started out off Broadway in 1993, then moved to the Great White Way three years later and onto the big screen in 2005 with much of the original cast.
Aiming for maximum eyeballs in an NFL lull, Rent Live! is set for the small screen for the still Rupert Murdoch owned net in the plum position of the Sunday between the NFL Conference Championship Games and Super Bowl LIII.
The next round of big screen and small screen tax credits come before then with feature films on the calendar for October 15-19 and TV projects set for November 5-9.