×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Puerto Rico sweetens film incentives

Looks to lure biz as some states trim offerings

Just as Michigan and New Mexico are proposing to slash their film incentives, Puerto Rico has wildly revamped its program to offer some of the U.S.’ most generous tax rebates.

The new legislation, signed into effect on Friday by Gov. Luis G. Fortuno, offers a 20% rebate for nonresidents in addition to the pre-existing 40% rebate for residents. Fortuno raised the annual cap on incentives from $15 million to $50 million.

Program also offers a 25% rebate for infrastructure to lure new studios, post-production houses and other industry. Once those facilities are up and running, the governor has pledged an additional $300 million in annual rebates for all productions that take advantage of them.

In addition, Puerto Rico has reduced the budget required for productions down to $100,000 and expanded its list of eligible projects.

News comes after last week’s proposals that Michigan cap its incentives at $25 million per year; the state currently offers the largest rebate of any state at 40%. Meanwhile, under New Mexico’s current budget proposal, its incentive program would be capped at $45 million per year. While both proposals must still gain legislative approval, the prospect of their passage has already reverberated through the film industry. Several productions, including the high-profile “Avengers,” have pulled out of the states.

Popular on Variety

Studios lured to Michigan because of its infrastructure and filming incentives say they’re nervous about productions tapering off. Some have even discussed closing shop.

So Puerto Rico is positioning itself to take advantage of a changing playing field.

“We look at it as an opportunity,” Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce Jose Ramon Perez-Riera told Variety. “While other jurisdictions are cutting back, we’re recommitting to the industry.”

Incentive programs have come under fire in recent years, with analysts questioning how much revenue they really generate. As many states grapple to reduce enormous budget deficits in a rough economy, those incentive programs have come under even tougher scrutiny.

In November, research and policy institute the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a report concluding that using state tax incentives to entice production hurts public services by reducing state revenue. The MPAA harpooned the report as “slipshod.”

Looking to capitalize on its proximity to the U.S., climate and scenery, Puerto Rico first expanded its 11-year-old incentives last year.

“We really didn’t have much of a movie industry coming from outside Puerto Rico,” Perez-Riera said of the program’s beginnings. “It wasn’t evident how big of an impact it could have on the economy.”

More than 60 productions have shot in Puerto Rico since 1999, including “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Fast Five” and “The Losers.” Perez-Riera says “Die Hard 5” and “Potsdamer Platz” are preparing to shoot in the territory this year.

More Film

  • Warner Bros. Pictures trailer launch event

    Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jon M. Chu Tease 'In the Heights' Movie

    Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Jon M. Chu and star Anthony Ramos took the train to the top of the world to offer a sneak peek of “In the Heights,” Warner Bros.’ big-screen adaptation of Miranda’s (other) hit musical. “I’m thrilled we’re here, and I’m thrilled we’re uptown,” Miranda rhapsodized to a packed crowd at a cozy [...]

  • One for the Road

    Wong Kar-wai to Produce 'Bad Genius' Director’s 'One For The Road'

    Wong Kar-wai is producing “One For The Road,” a new film that reunites the director and star of 2017 Thai hit “Bad Genius.” Production in New York and Thailand will begin by the end of the year. The film is a buddy drama and a road movie that sees two old friends who have been [...]

  • Jesse Eisenberg

    Film News Roundup: Jesse Eisenberg to Star in Indie Thriller 'Wild Indian' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In today’s film news roundup, Jesse Eisenberg is starring and exec producing “Wild Indian”; Jason Bateman is directing “Shut In”; “Saturday Night Live” veteran Paula Pell is honored; and the Palm Springs Film Festival sets its opening and closing films. CASTING Jesse Eisenberg is starring in and executive producing the independent thriller “Wild Indian,” Variety [...]

  • disney d23

    Top 19 Media Trends of 2019: Disney's Box Office Dominance

    The domestic box office market share over the last 12 years provides a sobering reminder of how important franchises are to studio performance, especially for Disney. Although the 2019 box office looks to be falling short of the previous year’s total, Disney is ending the decade on the highest possible note, becoming the first studio ever [...]

  • Pierce Brosnan Cinderella

    Pierce Brosnan to Play the King in Camila Cabello's 'Cinderella'

    Pierce Brosnan will play the king opposite Camila Cabello in writer-director Kay Cannon’s new telling of “Cinderella” for Sony Pictures. Billy Porter, Idina Menzel and Nicholas Galitzine are also confirmed to star in the film, which will be released in theaters Feb. 5, 2021. Cabello, a multi-platinum selling and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, will be integrally involved [...]

  • John Boyega

    John Boyega: 'Star Wars' Fandom Conflict Is 'The Most Stupid Thing in the World'

    Unlike his “Star Wars” compatriots Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac, John Boyega enjoys a robust presence on social media, with nearly 1.5 million followers on Twitter and over 1.6 million followers on Instagram. He regularly engages with fans, and posts inside looks at his life inside the “Star Wars” media maelstrom. It’s meant that Boyega [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

    'Watchmen' Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Says He Would Consider Playing Superman

    Those who are caught up on “Watchmen” know Yahya Abdul-Mateen II knows how to strike the balance between understated and omnipotent. He’s also no stranger to playing superheroes, as Aquaman’s nemesis Black Manta in the DC Universe. But asked whether he would consider taking on another DC Extended Universe role — Superman — Abdul-Mateen told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content