Los Angeles remained by far the most popular location for comedy pilots this past pilot season but continues to lose drama pilots to other areas, thanks in part to production incentives and more crews and facilities available outside Hollywood, the non-profit group FilmL.A. says in a new report.
That's bad news for the L.A. economy, because drama pilots on average cost $5.5 million compared to $2 million for comedies — and employ more people. A single drama series can create thousands of jobs and spend tens of millions of dollars, said the group, which issues permits for on-location shoots in the Los Angeles area.
FilmL.A. counted 152 broadcast and cable television pilots for the 2011-12 development cycle — the most of any year except the cycle before, which had 169. Los Angeles dominated with comedies, landing 91 percent of all comedy pilots for both network and cable, in part because it has so many of the soundstages where sitcoms are usually filmed.
But it had less than one-third of dramas, as tax incentives and improving infrastructure continued to draw pilots to New York City, Toronto, Vancouver and other locations. Six development cycles ago — in 2006-07, L.A. had 63 percent of drama pilots.
Dramas film on location far more often than comedies.
Story continues after chart, provided by FilmL.A.:
New York and Los Angeles tied with 11 broadcast network drama pilots each this past production cycle after having 10 each the previous cycle. Canada had 10 such pilots this time out, and other locations had 11. In cable pilots, Los Angeles led with 11. (See chart above.)
At the start of 2012-13 fall viewing season, 18 of the dramas on TV will be L.A.-based, including new and returning shows. Twenty-three dramas will be filmed outside the area. That means that for the first time in FilmL.A.'s study, less than 50 percent of dramas on the air will be shot in L.A., according to the group.