Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced the first 25 film and television productions to qualify for California’s production incentive, less than a month after the state started accepting applications for the funds.
The list has several recognizable feature projects including “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2,” DreamWorks’ “Dinner for Schmucks,” CBS Films’ “Faster,” Paramount’s “Naked Gun 4,” Screen Gems’ “Priest” and Sony’s “The Social Network.”
The state’s five-year, $500 million tax credit program covers 20% of below-the-line expenses for productions of up to $75 million. It can be sweetened to 25% of expenses for indie feature productions of up to $10 million — and for all existing TV shows that relocate to California. The state Legislature approved the production incentive program in February as part of a massive package of $12 billion in tax hikes.
“This is about the makeup artists, the caterers and the countless other small businesses that rely on film and television production to succeed and create jobs for Californians,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
Schwarzenegger’s announcement noted that the number of studio feature film projects has declined 50% since 2003, according to statistics tracked by the California Film Commission. Opponents of incentive programs often have asserted that the funding aids an already wealthy industry, while backers cite stats showing that each dollar spent on film production in California generates an economic output of $2.95 statewide, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.
“I can state without a doubt this new film incentive program is the reason we’re making our movie in California,” said Tom Duffield, production designer on “Faster,” starring Dwayne Johnson.
The state’s film commission began accepting applications July 1 and assigned queue numbers based on a random selection process.
The commission has notified 25 productions that they qualify. That list includes features “Burlesque”; “Christmas in Beverly Hills,” “Cooper,” “Dead Broke,” “Elevator Girl” and “Fire in the Hole.”
TV shows taking part in the program include Comedy Central’s “Important Things With Demetri Martin” and TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age.”