Moviegoers are likely to see fewer chase scenes through the Louisiana bayou next year — and more in the Bronx or Atlanta or on the 405 freeway.
While Louisiana and most other states have been rolling back or eliminating their incentives designed to attract Hollywood film and TV production, three states are going against the tide. New York has lured Hollywood postproduction houses with new subsidies and its annual incentive fund of $420 million is tops in the nation. Georgia is looking to a capitalize on the new facility build by Pinewood Studios in Atlanta. And last summer California committed to tripling credits to $330 million annually for five years.
What those three states have in common is a thriving pre- and postproduction infrastructure, in place for decades in New York and California, which enables producers to take further advantage of incentives.
On Wednesday, the California Film Commission announced that it had lured the HBO series “Veep” from Maryland, brought “American Horror Story” (photo top) back from Louisiana, and enticed “Hindsight” from Atlanta and “Secrets and Lies” from North Carolina, which recently cut back its long-established program.
It also conditionally approved the Fox pilot “Snowfall” and six new series. Splitting $52 million in credits will be Touchstone’s “Code Black,” CBS’s “Crazy Ex Girlfriend,” Fox’s “Rosewood,” Universal’s “Heart Breakers” and HBO’s “Utopia” and “Westworld,” which will receive $19.6 million $12 million.
This is the first year network series have been eligible for California incentives, and movies with budgets over $100 million are also newly welcome. But the state still won’t come close to meeting the demand, even though it will fund more projects and a broader range than ever before.
Some of the 26 projects that didn’t make the cut will be on a wait list, but the odds of being approved later this year are slimmer because the networks series are unlikely to fall out and many will look to other states for help.
California’s gains appear to be a direct result of a wave of disenchantment with tax incentives that has bubbled over in Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Michigan, where credits are being rolled back or eliminated.
Louisiana will almost surely eliminate payments for pre-release and creative costs like actors’ salaries and writing, which will put it in line with most rival states. And for the first time since 2002, the state will cap an incentive plan that has provided 35 percent tax credits and earned its “Hollywood on the Bayou” tag. It was home to 18 feature film shoots in 2013, but just five last year.
“Hollywood is an easy target when things get tight,” Stephen Weizenecker, an Atlanta-based attorney specializing in entertainment tax issues with Barnes & Thornburg, told TheWrap. “In Louisiana, the oil and gas economy has taken a big hit and tax revenues are down, so the legislators are looking to make cuts and tax incentives for movies and TV are low-hanging fruit.”
What they’ll find is a bleak landscape, far less welcoming than in past years. And clearly, the pendulum is swinging away from the liberal inducements that sent producers scrambling from the Golden State to greener financial pastures across the country.
Four states offered tax credits in 2002, but by 2012 that number was over 40 as legislators anxious to point to job creation and tourism opportunities opened up their wallets. The exodus rocked California’s status as the nation’s production capital, costing thousands of jobs and as much as $9 billion from its economy. Today, roughly 30 states offer incentives, with Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin all ending their programs and others planning to do the same.
Michigan, Maryland and Massachusetts are all in the midst of cutting back or doing away with their programs. too. In just about every state that offers TV and film credits, the programs are facing intense scrutiny as to their real value. The many ways of slicing and dicing dollars has resulted in conflicting reports on their value, and measuring intangible gains like jobs and tourism is difficult.
“No one in Hollywood has a problem with that,” said Weisenecker, “and in fact, I think most accounting people welcome it, because it makes more clear the benefits the productions bring. Producers and studios have no interest in pillaging the countryside because they end up getting a bad name and ultimately, no benefits.”
42 Summer Movies on Our Radar: From 'Avengers,' 'Jurassic World' to 'Magic Mike XXL' (Photos)
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" - May 1 The elite superhero team -- including Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans -- assembles again in this follow up to the 2012 blockbuster.
"Welcome to Me" - May 1 Kristen Wiig stars in this indie drama about a woman with borderline personality disorder who buys herself a cable access talk show after winning the lottery. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produced.
"The D-Train" - May 8 Jack Black plays the head of his high school reunion committee who must convince the most popular guy in his class (James Marsden) to attend the reunion in this Sundance pic.
"Maggie" - May 8 Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this indie as a father who stays with his daughter (Abigail Breslin) as she transforms into a zombie.
"Hot Pursuit" - May 8 Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara star in this buddy comedy about a straight-laced cop (Witherspoon) tasked with escorting a witness (Vergara) to her trial
"The Connection" - May 15 Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin stars in this French crime thriller as a real-life policeman who dedicates his career to taking down a drug lord (Gilles Lellouche)
"Mad Max: Fury Road" - May 15 Tom Hardy takes over the role that made Mel Gibson an international star in this reboot from the madcap mind of George Miller
"Pitch Perfect 2" - May 15 Anna Kendrick returns for the song-filled sequel to the 2012 musical smash hit.
"Poltergeist" - May 22 Sam Rockwell leads a remake of the 1982 horror classic that was originally written by Steven Spielberg.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Tomorrowland" - May 22 George Clooney and Britt Robertson star in a sci-fi fantasy about a man and woman who must discover the secrets of a strange land lost in time and space.
"Aloha" - May 29 Cameron Crowe directs Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone in a romantic comedy about a military contractor overseeing a satellite launch in Hawaii.
Columbia Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox
"San Andreas" - May 29
Dwayne Johnson stars in a disaster movie about a chopper pilot who must rescue his daughter (Alexandra Daddario) after a massive earthquake strikes California.
"Entourage" - June 5 Vince (Adrian Grenier) drives Ari (Jeremy Piven) up the wall when he decides to direct and star in his own movie in the big screen version of the HBO show.
"Spy" - June 5 Melissa McCarthy co-wrote and stars in a comedy about a CIA analyst who gets her chance to work in the field when an arms dealer (Rose Byrne) threatens to destabilize the world.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Insidious Chapter 3" - June 5 In this horror prequel, psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) agrees to help teenager (Stefanie Scott) who is being targeted by a supernatural force.
"Jurassic World" - June 12 Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas-Howard lead the latest installment in the Michael Crichton-inspired series. This time around, the park is terrorized by a genetically-engineered dinosaur that escapes its enclosure.
"Me and Earl and The Dying Girl" - June 12 This 2015 Sundance Grand Jury winner follows an anti-social teen (Thomas Mann) who falls in love with a classmate (Olivia Cooke) who has leukemia.
"Dope" - June 19 This Sundance breakout centers on a teen (Shameik Moore) trying to make his Ivy League dreams come true in his tough LA neighborhood.
Open Road Films
"Inside Out" - June 19 Pixar takes us inside the mind of a little girl as her emotions vie for control. Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader all lend their voices.
"Ted 2" - June 26 Seth MacFarlane's foul-mouthed teddy bear returns in the sequel that finds Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) and John (Mark Wahlberg) fighting in court to prove that Ted is human.
"Batkid Begins" June 26 This feel-good documentary tells the story of a five-year-old leukemia patient who inspired people from all over the world to help him live out his dream of being Batman for a day.
"Max" - June 26 A Marine-trained German shepherd is sent to live with the family of his former handler (Robbie Amell), who was killed in Afghanistan
"Big Game" - June 26 A teenage-boy (Onni Tommila) rescues the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) when Air Force One crash lands near his campsite.
"Magic Mike XXL" - July 1 Channing Tatum gyrates his way into this sequel as stripper "Magic" Mike who decides to attend an annual stripper conference in Myrtle Beach.
"Terminator: Genisys" - July 1 Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as the unstoppable android as he fights to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) with the help of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney).
"Minions" - July 2 The Minions are back in this "Despicable Me" spinoff. This time, they are recruited by a super-villainess (Sandra Bullock) in her plot to take over the world.
"The Bronze" - July 10 "Big Bang Theory" star Melissa Rauch co-wrote and stars in this comedy about a former Olympic athlete clinging to her last shreds of fame.
"Self/Less" - July 10 Ryan Reynolds stars in this thriller about a wealthy, dying man who pays to have his consciousness transferred into a younger body. When he begins to investigate where the body came from, he discovers a terrifying mystery
"Ant-Man" - July 17 Paul Rudd leads this Marvel comic adaptation about a con man who is given a device that can shrink him in scale by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
"Trainwreck" - July 17 Amy Schumer and Bill Hader star in a Judd Apatow comedy about a magazine writer (Schumer) who refuses to commit, until her relationship with a doctor (Hader) challenges her notions of monogamy.
"Stanford Prison Experiment" - July 17 Based on the infamous 1971 psychological experiment, 24 male students volunteer to play prisoners or guards in a mock-prison, only for things to spiral completely out of control.
"Paper Towns" - July 24 Based on the novel by John Green, Nat Wolff plays a boy who convinces his friends to embark on a road trip to find the missing girl next door (Cara Delevingne).
Twentieth Century Fox
"Pixels" - July 24 Adam Sandler leads a team of gamers (Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage) who must fight aliens that invade Earth in the form of classic video games.
"Southpaw" - July 24 Jake Gyllenhaal packed on the muscle for this drama about a troubled boxer fighting to regain custody of his daughter. Antoine Fuqua directed based on a script by Kurt Sutter.
The Weinstein Company
"Irrational Man" - July 24 Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone star in a Woody Allen film about a college philosophy professor (Phoenix) who enters into a relationship with his student (Stone).
"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" - July 31 Tom Cruise once again does the impossible as he leads his team against an international syndicate intent on destroying the Impossible Mission Force.
"End of the Tour" - July 31 Jesse Eisenberg stars as Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky as he conducts a series of interviews with author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). The film is based on Lipsky's book, "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself."
"Fantastic Four" - August 7 Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic), Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch), Kate Mara (Invisible Girl), and Jamie Bell (The Thing) lead this comic adaptation about the superhero team that gained powers after an accident in space.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Masterminds" - August 7 Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudekis and Zach Galifianakis star in this heist comedy about a real 1997 armored car robbery in North Carolina
"The Man From U.N.C.L.E." - August 14 Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer play an American and Russian agent forced to team up to stop an evil organization trying to steal nuclear weapons. The film is based on the 1964 TV series of the same name.
"Straight Outta Compton" - August 14 O'Shea Jackson Jr., the son of Ice Cube, plays his father in this look at the impact of the revolutionary gangster rap group NWA.
"Hitman: Agent 47" - August 28 Rupert Friend stars in this video game adaptation about a genetically engineered assassin who teams up with a mysterious young woman to bring down an evil corporation.
Twentieth Century Fox
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TheWrap Summer Movie Preview 2015: ”Mission: Impossible 5,“ ”Entourage,“ ”Mad Max: Fury Road“ also among season’s big releases