Yank Majors Shy Of Foreign Shores

Close to home was the theme of American filmmaking during 1990 as for the second year in a row only 19 major films were shot overseas.

That amounts to just 13% of the Hollywood product, compared to previous years when typically more than 25% of filming for the major studios was done abroad.

Chief beneficiary of this phenomenon was the local California industry; 48% of 1990’s productions by the majors were lensed wholly or in part in the Golden State. That compares to only one in three major films being shot in California as recently as 1984,1985 and 1987.

One reason for the upsurge in local filming is the new cost-consciousness in Hollywood, after the 1990 crop of releases (most of them having commenced production in 1989) turned out to be the most expensive films in real terms since the disastrous spending binge on epics and musicals in the 1960s. The desire to keep closer tabs on productions and costs led to more California shoots. However, this ploy does not guarantee savings, as the recent L.A.-shot “Terminator 2” stands as the most expensive feature ever made in the U.S. In real dollar terms Fox’ “Cleopatra” shot overseas is still the champ by a wide margin.

New York also experienced its best filming year in a decade with 37 features or 24% of the total made at least partly in the Big Apple and environs.

Normally only about 15% of the majors’ pictures are made in New York. Ironically, with the Hollywood studios staging a de facto boycott of New York at the end of the year and labor unions standing firm in their subsequent negotiations, 1991 looms as the worst year ever for Gotham lensing.

For the first four months of 1991 the only major picture to be shot in New York is a portion of Morgan Creek’s sci-fier “Freejack,” although that WB release is primarily being shot in Atlanta.

Domestically, Texas had its slowest year since 1985, with only two films, “Hard Promises” and a portion of “Blue Sky,” shot in the Lone Star State compared to eight major pics the year before.

Despite the presence of two major studios in the state, Florida hosted only eight major pics in 1990, after seven shoots there in 1988 and the same count in 1989.

Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia were regional winners with more films shot in each state than during the previous year.

Overseas, Wim Wenders’ “Until The End Of The World” bloated individual country statistics, as he filmed the sci-fi epic in 10 different nations.

Canadian production was down a bit with 10 films in total while U.K. lensing remained depressed with only 10 major shoots.

Big gainer, predictably, was the Soviet Union with three films made for U.S. majors.

With the threat of war in the Middle East looming during the latter half of 1990 there was only a smattering of overseas filming by Hollywood companies.

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