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.”
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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.