“Akira” was by far the biggest of the 18 tax credit allocations unveiled Tuesday under the state’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0, which include eight independent projects. The movies will generate an estimated $408 million in qualified expenditures (below-the-line wages and payments to in-state vendors) and employ 2,575 crew, 812 cast, and 29,000 extras/stand-ins over a combined 740 shoot days in California.
“Akira,” based on a manga series written and illustrated by Katsuhiro Otama and set in a post-apocalyptic 2060 Tokyo, will generate an estimated $92 million in qualified spending. This figure includes $43 million in wages to 200 below-the-line crew members and more than 5,000 extras/stand-ins. The project is scheduled to film entirely in California over the course of 71 filming days.
“We are thrilled with the opportunity to shoot ‘Akira’ in California,” said Ravi Mehta, Warner Bros. Pictures’ executive VP of physical production and finance. “The availability of top-notch crew members, plus the wide variety of location choices and predictable weather are second to none.”
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Dicaprio is producing “Akira” with Jennifer Davisson through their Appian Way company with Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) attached to direct. In order to receive the tax credit, producers must begin production within 180 days.
With the addition of “Akira,” California has attracted a total of 13 big-budget feature films under its expanded Program 2.0 — which includes projects with budgets of at least $75 million.
“Big-budget film projects bring big employment and big spending, and we’re able to bring them home to California more cost-effectively than other locales that don’t have all that we have to offer,” said California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch. “‘Akira’ is just the latest in a growing list of big-budget film projects that have found California offers the best value despite the availability of more aggressive financial incentives in other states and nations.”
Ten of the 18 projects plan to shoot outside the Los Angeles 30-mile zone including Tucker Tooley Productions’ “Flying Horse” with 50 filming days in Sacramento. It’s receiving a $4.4 million tax credit. A teen drama based on Jandy Nelson’s novel “The Sky is Everywhere” has been set for a $1.7 million credit with 40 filming days in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Marin, and Alameda counties.
“This latest round of tax credits demonstrates how Program 2.0 enables indie and studio projects to remain in California and tap our unmatched talent and infrastructure,” Lemisch added. “The filmmakers represent diverse projects that will shoot in locations across the state — from Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe to San Diego County.”
The commission reported on Nov. 2 that California’s expanded production tax incentive program has resulted in nearly $6 billion in in-state spending over the past three years, generated from $815 million in tax credits. California’s credit covers up to 25% of in-state production costs, which is not as lucrative as other locations, but is aimed at putting the brakes on runaway production and luring projects to the Golden State.
In July, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an extension of California’s production tax credit program for five years beyond its 2020 expiration with $1.6 billion in credits. The program was more than tripled in size in 2014 to $330 million annually to compete effectively with incentives in New York and Georgia. The program is overseen by the state’s film commission, which selects the TV and movie projects to qualify partly based on the number of jobs created.
Feature films covered under the program include Disney’s “Captain Marvel,” Paramount’s “Transformers” spinoff “Bumblebee” and Warner Bros. “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James and Bugs Bunny. Earlier this year, Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” became the 16th television series to relocate to California and has been allocated $24.7 million in tax credits. Other relocated series include “Good Girls,” “You,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Legion,” “Ballers” and “Veep.”