Dwayne Johnson's 'San Andreas' Shoots Briefly
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Underlining California’s problem of keeping big-budget movies, Dwayne Johnson’s earthquake thriller “San Andreas” recently shot for two days in Los Angeles before returning to Australia for nearly all of the two-month shoot.

Even though the movie takes place in a California ravaged by a mammoth 9.0 shaker, almost none of it is shot in the Golden State. Johnson portrays a copter pilot who rescues his daughter in San Francisco, where less than a week of shooting is taking place — mostly “plate” shots to establish location.

The rest of New Line’s $100 million movie will be made in Australia at the Village Roadshow Studios in Gold Coast, Queensland. In December, “San Andreas” was granted a portion of Australia’s $20 million film fund to attract overseas movies along with offsets from the Queensland Production Incentive Scheme, local payroll tax rebates and federal rebates.

As a result of weekend shooting in Los Angeles on May 10-11, “San Andreas” totaled 18 permitted days from 10 locations — mostly in the downtown area and Hollywood — and paid $13,548 in permit fees, which cover processing and the costs of city fire and safety officers.

The total of 18 permitted days made “San Andreas” the most active feature shot in Los Angeles last week, according to figures provided by the FilmL.A. permitting agency.

Because of the lure of incentives outside of California, few big-budget movies are shot in Los Angeles, with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” being a few of the handful that have shot in the state in recent years. “Argo” received a 20% tax credit from the state, thanks to winning a spot in the state’s lottery and being eligible because it had a budget under $75 million.

While shooting on “San Andreas” resumed this week in Australia, legislation to expand California’s incentives for movie and TV production cleared the Assembly’s Revenue and Taxation Committee on an 8-0 vote. The legislation would expand the incentive program to cover feature films with budgets over $75 million as well as new TV drama series, addressing the loss of such productions to other states.

Authors of the legislation have yet to specify how much to expand the tax incentive program, currently at $100 million per year. New York’s program offers about $420 million annually.

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