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Hawaii says aloha to record film spending

TV production makes up lion's share

HONOLULU — Hawaii earned a record-breaking $99.1 million from film and TV production spending and tax revenues last year, up 40% on 1997’s $70.7 million.

Oahu benefited most from filming with a tally of $40 million, nearly three times more than the Big Island’s $14.4 million, according to new figures from the Hawaii Film Office.

The previous best year was 1994, when the film “Waterworld” spent $35 million on the Big Island (Hawaii), pushing the overall state revenues to $97 million.

The 1998 record is thanks to a particularly strong showing from the TV sector. Three TV series — “Fantasy Island” (ABC), “Wind on Water” (NBC) and the Japanese show “Hotel” — spent $28.2 million, up more than 1,000% from $2.5 million in 1997.

Both “Fantasy Island,” which starred Malcolm McDowell, and “Wind on Water,” with Bo Derek, failed to survive a full season.

Feature film crews — including those for “Father Damien,” “Nemo” and “Dinosaurs” — spent $12.6 million in Hawaii last year, a 44% drop from $22.7 million in 1997.

Last year was also a record year for state and local tax revenues from TV and film productions, with coffers getting $18.2 million, up 40% from $13 million a year earlier and topping the 1994 record of $17.8 million.

State officials expect 1999 to be another good year, though perhaps not enough to break the $100 million mark.

“Baywatch Hawaii” is filming 22 episodes mostly on Oahu from July through December, and is expected to spend about $18 million.

The TV series “Pacific Blue” has just completed filming two episodes for $1.5 million, and Pax TV will film a talent show in August and September and is expected to spend several million dollars.

Revenues from commercial productions, always a consistent money producer for the state, were up about $300,000 from last year to $5.8 million.