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How Hollywood Could Be Impacted by D.C. Shutdown

A shutdown could severely affect production travel and prove challenging to Disney and Comcast, both of which depend on foreign visitors in their theme parks

A congressional fight over the federal budget and federal debt payments — seemingly distant from the movie and TV industry — could have a significant impact on Hollywood if it results in a government shutdown.

Plans to film in national parks, obtain passports and fly in crew or stars from overseas all might have to be put on hold. A shutdown also could delay court decisions, force the Federal Communications Commission to hold off approval of TV station sales and delay a variety of trade negotiations.

It also could prove especially challenging for Disney and Comcast, both of which have  theme parks that draw significant numbers of foreign visitors. In 1995, two government shutdowns delayed the State Department’s processing of thousands of visas for foreign tourists, costing the U.S. travel industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tourist revenue. Neither company returned a request for comment.

Also read: Why Hollywood’s Biggest Films Are Leaving L.A. for London

The national-park closures — which happened the last two times the government shut down, under President Bill Clinton in 1995 — would mean movie and TV production couldn’t be shot there, something that would affect not just movie and TV shoots but  TV commercials.

“National Park Service staff are required to monitor most filming, photograph and sound recording activities,” according to Yellowstone’s filming policy, which says that filmmakers have to reimburse the government $65 an hour for having park staff on hand to monitor the shooting.

A  shutdown would make that staff unavailable.

In the last shutdowns, the State Department people who process visa were sent home, leaving 20,000 visas unprocessed each day. But a shutdown would affect more than visas and passports. While it’s expected that air controllers and the international travel system would be designated “essential services” and continue to operate, and planes would fly under government emergency authority, a shutdown could increase airport delays going through security.

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The Transportation Security Administration was formed after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, six years after the last shutdown. The Obama administration hasn’t said yet how a shutdown would affect TSA this time.

It’s not yet clear in Washington if or when the government will shut down.

It could take place Tuesday, the start of the federal fiscal year, or on Oct. 17, when the government outruns its ability to borrow money. Congress has yet to approve spending for federal agencies, and House Republicans have demanded either an end to funding or a delay in the President Obama’s Affordable Care Act as the price of extending government funding, a price the Senate has rejected.

The Center for Effective Government reported recently that any shutdown could have far broader impact than the two in 1995 — one for five days and a second for 23 days. Those affected only part of the federal government; this year Congress hasn’t authorized funds for any federal agency yet, so a shutdown would impact all federal agencies.