California Was World’s Top Film Production Center in 2015, U.K. Generated Most Spending

California Top Movie Production Center in
Courtesy of Universal

California’s status as the top production center in the world remained intact last year as the state was the leading site for major feature films with 19 of the top 109 projects, according to a new FilmL.A. study.

The 19 projects that filmed in California — 16 live-action and three animated — brought an estimated $720 million in total production spending to the state — placing the state far behind the United Kingdom, which generated $1.63 billion in production spending from 15 projects. The most notable U.K. spend last year was for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with a $306 million budget and a $47.4 million incentive.

Georgia and Louisiana tied for third with a dozen movies each, followed by Canada with 11 projects and New York plunging from 13 projects in 2014 to seven last year.

It was the third year in row in which non-profit agency FilmL.A., which works to improve location shooting for producers, has issued the report. The report also came a year after California’s sweetened tax incentive program went into effect for the next five years following extensive lobbying by the industry and unions focused on the issue of job retention to put the brakes on producers’ flight to incentive-rich locations elsewhere.

“This report highlights both the aggressiveness of our competitors for feature film projects and the effectiveness of California’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program,” said FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. “Compared to its competitors, California is attracting big production investment with modest incentive outlays.”

The report showed that seven of the 16 projects were made in California, thanks to the state’s tax credit program, including “Straight Outta Compton” with a $4.8 million tax credit on a $50 million budget; “Insidious: Chapter 3” with a $2.4 million credit on an $11 million budget; “Entourage” with a $5.8 million credit on a $39 million budget; “Freaks of Nature” with a $3.9 million incentive on a $33 million budget; and “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” with a $3 million credit on a $24 million budget.

FilmL.A. also noted that the only films produced in California with budgets topping $100 million were animated projects. And for the first time on record, California was not host to any of 2015’s 25 highest-grossing live-action films at the worldwide box office.

The report said that future studies should show increases for California as the state’s incentive program — which provides $330 million in tax credits annually — reaches full utilization. Next year’s report will include New Line’s “The Conjuring 2” and Warner Bros.’ “Chips” as films receiving the California credit.

“Ten years ago, Angelenos were packing up their bags and heading out of state to take advantage of other state film and television tax credits,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Today, we’ve never seen more opportunity right here at home. Nearly half of all films created in California last year were made possible thanks to our leadership in tripling the state’s film tax credit.”

Garcetti was an active proponent of the legislation to increase the size of the tax credit program. The credits are awarded by the state film commission based on a jobs-creation formula.

“Those hard-won dollars mean that Angelenos are practicing their craft in L.A. again; they’re spending money in their own neighborhoods; they’re laying their heads down on their own pillows at the end of the day,” he added. “We will continue to fight for production in Los Angeles. The industry is booming in Los Angeles, and we’re going to keep it that way.”

The first report from FilmL.A., issued two years ago, showed that California trailed Louisiana, Canada and the U.K. in live-action features.

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  1. Jc says:

    The only thing that california is losing is block bluster films. Tv production is strong and in the latest round of tax credits california just snaged American Crime from texas. In fact on the television side of things no state comes close to the amount of tv production shoots that california is enjoying right now.

  2. Jonah Kyle says:

    The report also came a year after California’s sweetened tax incentive program went into effect for the next five years following extensive lobbying by the industry and unions focused on the issue of job retention to put the brakes on producers’ flight to incentive-rich locations elsewhere.

    And there, campers, is a PRIME example of “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is also mine.” While businesses leave California for states like Florida, North Carolina, or in my case, Texas, because of oppressive tax rates, the Entertainment Industry gets to have a tax break, just like the business owners they accuse of oppressing the public. In short, Hollywood has vindicated Ronald Reagan, the Tea Party, and the Conservative Movement. Proof is in the pudding.

  3. LOL says:

    I’m not impressed. Looking at the quality film productions California is getting? It’s really not a strong slate. California didn’t even have a top 25 live action film production. Georgia last year alone grossed $5 billion dollars in revenue from film production. That’s more then anyone last year. In addition, they have arguably the top production facility in America, known as Pinewood Studios. A facility that is expanding in the Georgia area. As much as the report is trying to make California still the major hub of film production, it’s not anymore. That’s just the reality of it. California should just stick with trying to keep TV productions in their state (even though they don’t have either of the top 2 show productions). Film production is now a global industry & California won’t be the Mecca of it anymore especially since the studio system is shrinking & are becoming more distribution hubs then production hubs. Also, producers are now more independent then ever before. The film independent industry is now 78% of the film market. That’s just reality of it. California will probably be always a part of the film industry in some way but it will never be the primary pinnacle of it again, as its now, global & that’s just going to grow even more in the future.

    • The direct spend in Georgia last year for ALL film & TV production was $1.7 billion. The $5 billion number is a fantasy based on an implausibly high (and outdated) multiplier…it was also discredit by sites like fact check. But even if GA had $5 billion in spending (they didn’t) it pales in comparison to the more than $30 billion spent on production in California or the $9 billion spent in NY. And the top two most viewed shows in the US are NCIS and Big Bang Theory and both are shot in LA. Get your facts straight next time.

  4. Bill says:

    What about television production? Are there numbers available to track LA vs. NY vs. Canada, etc., on the television front?

    • realshane says:

      Bill, FilmL.A. put out a “2015 Pilot Production Report” that has a map in there, showing some top TV series locations. The 2015 Production Retrospective also has some TV data, in terms of shoot days specifically for Los Angeles.

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