Principal photography on Marvel pic begins in April

Marvel Studios will shoot “The Avengers” in New Mexico, marking the state’s largest feature film project to date.

Pre-production is already under way, with principal photography scheduled from April through September.

Pic will take advantage of New Mexico’s 25% rebate program aimed at bringing in major film and TV productions. Gov. Bill Richardson estimates that the incentive has helped bring in over $4 billion and 10,000 direct and indirect film-related jobs since 2002.

While it has attracted more than 150 projects, including “True Grit,” “Thor” and “Breaking Bad,” the tax incentive came under scrutiny last year after two separate economic studies came to opposite conclusions on the program.

Albuquerque Studios will host “The Avengers” shoot for most of 2011. Based on Marvel’s comicbook series, “The Avengers” stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo. Joss Whedon will write and direct with Kevin Feige producing.

Exec producers include Jon Favreau, Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Stan Lee and Patty Whitcher. Co-producers are Jeremy Latcham and Victoria Alonso.

Other locations will include New York and Michigan.

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