Damien Chazelle’s ‘Babylon’ Selected for California Tax Credit

Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” has received a $17.5 million tax credit allocation from the California Film Commission for shooting the period drama in the Golden State.

Variety first reported Monday that Emma Stone and Brad Pitt are in talks to star for “Babylon” with Paramount landing worldwide rights and setting a Dec. 25, 2021 release date. The commission estimated that “Babylon” will generate $83.4 million in “qualified spending” —  defined as below-the-line wages to California workers and payments to in-state vendors.

“I’m thrilled to be able to film ‘Babylon’ here in California, with its rich landscapes and excellent crew members,” said Chazelle. “Thank you to the Film Commission for helping me bring this film to the big screen.”

“Babylon” received the largest conditional allocation of the 13 disclosed Tuesday from the commission. Warner Bros.’ remake of “Little Shop of Horrors,” was the second-largest with $12.3 million, followed by $9.1 million for “Rescue Rangers” and $5.6 million for Universal’s “Dear Evan Hansen.”

The commission said the 13 latest film projects (eight non-independent, five independent) are on track to generate more than $376 million in “qualified spending” by employing an estimated 1,960 crew, 698 cast and 26,119 background actors/stand-ins over a combined 587 filming days in California.

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“The projects announced today reaffirm that top decision makers prefer to shoot in California even when they can receive more lucrative tax credits elsewhere,” said California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell. “The list includes projects by Damien Chazelle, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Geffen, Marc Platt and other industry leaders who understand that California continues to offer the best value.”

Geffen and Platt are the producers on the “Little Shop of Horrors” remake. Paul Thomas Anderson, whose credits include “Boogie Nights” and “Phantom Thread,” is producing the “Untitled PTA 2020” project. Eva Longoria is making her feature directorial debut on Universal’s workplace comedy “24/7,” starring Kerry Washington. Amazon’s “Being the Ricardos” is a Lucille Ball biopic starring Cate Blanchett.

The state’s production tax credit program was tripled in 2014 to $330 million to compete effectively with New York and Georgia, then extended a year ago to 2025 with a credit of up to 25% of qualified expenditures spent in California.

Feature films covered under the program have included “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Captain Marvel,” “Bumblebee,” “Space Jam 2” and “Sherlock Holmes 3.” Earlier this year, Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” became the 16th television series to relocate to California, joining “Good Girls,” “You,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Legion,” “Ballers” and “Veep.”

The state ditched the lottery approach several years ago and selects projects based on a jobs-creation formula.

The commission said during the first four years of the expanded program, $1.1 billion in tax credit allocation was on track to generate nearly $8.4 billion in direct in-state spending: $3 billion in qualified wages to below-the-line crew members, $2.6 billion in qualified vendor expenditures and another $2.8 billion in expenditures that do not qualify for tax credits.

Projects selected for tax credits during the first four years of Program 2.0 hired more than 36,000 crew members, 27,000 cast, and 559,000 background actors/stand-ins. The commission said members of Teamsters, IATSE, basic crafts and others covered under the Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans experienced an 11.7% year-to-year increase in hours worked in California from 2017 to 2018.

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