California: Film Commission lures Captain Marvel back to the state with $20 million

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At the end of July, the California Film Commission announced that half of the projects in its latest allocation in the Film & TV Tax Credit Program of $68 million plan to film outside of the Los Angeles production zone. This “demonstrate[s] the state’s progress in attracting big-budget projects and creating jobs statewide.” There were 92 applicants, and eight independent and studio projects received credits, including three big-budget films: Captain Marvel, Island Plaza, and Midway. These three projects have production budgets of more than $75 million; under the previous version of the tax credit program, that would have rendered them ineligible.

The current version of the program, known as the Film & Television Tax Credit Program 2.0, provides tax credits for eligible projects that are produced in California. The $1.55 billion program runs for 5 years, and is scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2020.

Each fiscal year, the $330-million funding is categorized in the following proportions:

  • 40 percent, or $132 million for TV projects, which includes new series, recurring TV, mini-series, pilots, and movies of the week.
  • 35 percent, or $115.5 million for non-indie features.
  • 20 percent, or $66 million for relocating TV.
  • 5 percent, or $16.5 million, for indie features.

Projects submitted for tax credit approval are selected based on their jobs ratio score, which ranks each project by wages to below-the-line workers, qualified spending for vendors, equipment, and other criteria. Below-the-line workers are those other than the actors, director, producers, and writers. Only after each selected project completes post-production, verifies that in-state jobs were created, and provides all required documentation, including audited cost reports, does the California Film Commission award the tax credits.

Under Program 2.0, eligibility requirements, and the amount of credit available, vary by category. Generally, the production budget must be at least $500,000 or $1 million, either per film or episode, and 75 percent of the total “principal photography” days must be in the state, or 75 percent of the production budget must be incurred and used for goods, services and/or wages within California.

“[A]fter almost a decade away” from California, reported ScreenRant, Captain Marvel is scheduled to begin filming in January 2018, just after Avengers 4 and Ant-Man & the Wasp wrap up, both of which are being produced in Georgia. Captain Marvel received more than $20 million in tax credits from the California Film Commission. There is little detail available on the movie, other than the facts that it features Brie Larson and Samuel Jackson, will take place in the ’90s, feature a young Nick Fury, and involve the Kree-Skrull War from the comics.

Iron Man and Thor, also Marvel Comic Universe properties, have filmed in California, but not for some time because other jurisdictions, such as Atlanta, have offered more generous tax credits. This is why the Film Production Capital’s star guide gives the Golden State just three out of five stars. Georgia and Kentucky are the only two states to earn five stars, and Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico also are more favorable than California according to the guide, each with four stars.

Shootonline reported that Island Plaza received $21.5 million in tax credits, and Midway received $13.9 million. Other recipients of California’s film tax credits are Bird Box, Cheney, featuring Christian Bale as the former vice president, Happytime Murders, and Peppermint, all of which received $2.5 million each. A Christmas Story: The Musical Live! received $1.4 million.

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