Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Little America’ Among 12 Features Approved for California Tax Credit

The projects are on track to generate $225 million in qualified spending

Sylvester Stallone

The Sylvester Stallone thriller “Little America,” Aaron Sorkin’s Lucille Ball biopic with Cate Blanchett and 10 other feature films have qualified for the final round of the state of California’s tax credit program, the California Film Commission announced Monday.

The 12 projects, four of them indies and eight from studios, are on track to generate nearly $225 million in qualified spending, which is defined as below-the-line wages to California workers and payments to in-state vendors.

All 12 of the projects were scheduled to be announced as recipients to the tax credit program back in April, but the announcement was delayed as a result of the coronavirus, and the approval of these projects could indicate that the industry is getting back to work after the pandemic-driven shutdown.

Universal’s “Live Feed” will get the biggest tax credit, just over $10.0 million, followed by eOne Features’ thriler “Pursuit” ($6.6 million), Amazon’s untitled Lucille Ball project ($3.7 million) and Fox’s “Lady of the House” ($3.4 million). The commission has reserved $40.2 million in tax credit allocation for the 12 films, which were chosen from 54 applications.

While most of the production activity will occur within the Los Angeles 30-Mile Studio Zone, four of the 12 projects (the indies “Dead Dads Club” and “Dog,” along with “Little America” and “Pursuit”) plan a significant amount of production (65 filming days) in Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. California will double as regions such as Iran (for eOne’s “The Test”), Hong Kong (for “Little America”) and Florida (for “Lady of the House”). In addition, a project that was set originally in the Pacific Northwest (New Regency’s “The Black Hole”) was rewritten to take place in Los Angeles.

Extending production beyond the 30-Mile Zone has been key for the tax credit program, and with the 12 films in this final wave, more than 50 productions were brought to regions across California through the program, generating an estimated $145 million of qualified spending.

“Program 2.0 has accomplished precisely what it was designed to do, from creating high-wage jobs to encouraging more out-of-zone production,” California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell said in a statement. “As the industry begins to rebound from COVID-19, the launch of Program 3.0 will help continue to ensure that California provides an unparalleled value.”

Bell noted that over in the last five years, the expanded Program 2.0 has incentivized 243 film and TV projects, generating an estimated $11 billion in overall spending across California, including $4 billion in qualified wages to below-the-line workers and $3.7 billion in payments to in-state vendors. Based on data provided with each tax credit application, the 12 latest film projects will employ an estimated 1,745 crew, 543 cast and 14,668 background actors/stand-ins (the latter measured in “man days”) over a combined 444 filming days in California.

One of the projects to qualify is “Moonshadow,” a story of a transgender teen sent to “conversion” camp that employs a trans creative team, cast and crew.

“As a project with many trans and other gender non-confirming creative team members, cast and crew, it was essential for ‘Moonshadow’ production to be based in a progressive state,” Jude Harris, an executive producer on the film, said in a statement. “California’s tax credit program is making it possible for us to generate jobs and production spending here at home while working in a supportive environment.”

Version 3.0 of California’s film and TV tax credit program launches July 1, but with new provisions, including a pilot skills training program to help individuals from underserved communities gain access to career opportunities. There are also provisions requiring projects to have a written policy for addressing unlawful harassment and enhanced reporting of above and below-the-line cast and crew employment diversity data.

The application period for the first round of Program 3.0 TV projects was held June 22 – 24, with approved projects scheduled to be announced on July 20. The next application period for feature film tax credits will be held July 13 – 15, with approved projects scheduled to be announced on August 17.