Michael Jackson Biopic and ‘Thomas Crown Affair’ Remake Highlight Projects to Nab California Tax Credits

The Film and TV Tax Credit Program has granted a total $81.7 million break for 24 projects that will generate $662 million in spending across the state

Michael Ochs Archive, Getty Images/MGM

The California Film Commission announced 24 upcoming projects that will benefit from the state’s Film and TV Tax Credit Program on Monday,” including an upcoming Michael Jackson biopic and a remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Total, the projects will receive a combined $81.7 million break for generating an estimated $662 million in spending.

Based on the 1968 feature, which was previously revisited in a Pierce Brosnan-starring remake in 1999, “The Thomas Crown Affair” will star Michael B. Jordan in a script penned by Wes Tooke (“Midway”) for producers Joe and Anthony Russo. “Michael,” the Michael Jackson biopic from Lionsgate and filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, will star the late pop icon’s own nephew, Jaafar Jackson, in its title role.

“Michael” “is on track to generate more in-state spending than any other film in the tax credit program’s 14-year history. In a Monday release, the commission stated that “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Michael” and an untitled live-action project from Disney are three big-budget projects that will generate an estimated $265 million in qualified spending and $433 million in total spending in California. (Here, “qualified” spending is defined as wages paid to below-the-line workers and payments to in-state vendors; all other spending is not incentivized under the program.)

“Our tax credit program continues to welcome a diverse range of projects, from big-budget films to small independent projects, and everything in between,” California Film Commission Executive Director Colleen Bell said in a statement. “The program is an important tool for maintaining our competitiveness and curbing runaway production. We are working harder than ever to keep entertainment production here in California, where it belongs.” 

Additionally, 21 independent films will participate in the tax credit program. Among them are an untitled film by writer-director Sofia Coppola; the Elizabeth Taylor biopic “A Special Relationship,” starring Rachel Weisz; and Atlas Entertainment’s “The Knockout Queen.” Five of the films clock in at more than $10 million in qualified spending, with the other nine qualifying at $10 million or less.

Half of the projects plan to film outside the Los Angeles 30-mile studio zone. The California Film Commission received a total of 58 applications during the Jan. 30–Feb. 6 feature film tax credit application period.

The next application period for feature films will be held July 24–July 31. The next application period for TV projects will be held March 6–March 20.