Cate Blanchett’s untitled Lucille Ball biopic and Sylvester Stallone’s “Little America” are among a dozen projects selected for a total of $40 million tax credit allocations by the California Film Commission.
The list, unveiled Monday, includes “Moonshadow,” the story of a transgender teen sent to conversion camp, which also has a trans creative team, cast and crew; “Ashes to Ocean,” which revolves around an Asian family; “The Test,” which focuses on immigration and citizenship; New Regency’s thriller “Black Hole,” based on a graphic novel; and “Half Baked 2.” Universal’s “Live Feed” received the largest allocation with $10 million.
“As a project with many trans and other gender non-confirming creative team members, cast and crew, it was essential for ‘Moonshadow’ production to be based in a progressive state,” said executive producer Jude Harris. “California’s tax credit program is making it possible for us to generate jobs and production spending here at home while working in a supportive environment.”
Amazon Studios has been attached to the Lucille Ball project, which is based on Aaron Sorkin’s script, since 2017. “Little America,” a sci-fi thriller with Michael Bay executive producing, was unveiled earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival.
The 12 projects are expected to generate nearly $225 million in qualified spending, defined as below-the-line wages to California workers and payments to in-state vendors. The allocations were originally set to be announced in April, but approvals were delayed due to COVID-19 and the resulting suspension in production activity.
Earlier this month, California gave its blessing for film and TV production to resume, subject to approval from county public health authorities. On June 11, Los Angeles County issued extensive regulations for a staged resumption of film and TV production.
The state’s production tax credit program requires recipients to begin production within 180 days. The program tripled in 2014 to $330 million annually to compete effectively with New York and Georgia, then extended to 2025 with a credit of up to 25% of qualified expenditures spent in California. The state ditched the lottery approach several years ago and selects projects based on a jobs-creation formula.
Feature films covered under the California program have included “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Captain Marvel,” “Bumblebee,” “Space Jam 2” and “Sherlock Holmes 3.” A total of 16 TV series have relocated to California under the program, including Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” “Good Girls,” “You,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Legion,” “Ballers” and “Veep.”
The commission said Monday that eight of the 12 projects will take place within the Los Angeles 30-Mile Studio Zone, while the other four (“Dead Dads Club,” “Dog,” “Little America” and “Pursuit”) plan for 65 filming days in Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. The commission also said California will double for Iran for “The Test,” Hong Kong for “Little America” and Florida for “Lady of the House” and noted that “Black Hole,” originally been planned to take place in the Pacific Northwest, has been rewritten to take place in Los Angeles.
The five-year extension of the program, dubbed California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program 3.0, launches on July 1 with several new provisions, including a pilot skills training program to help individuals from underserved communities along with provisions requiring projects to have a written policy for addressing unlawful harassment, and enhanced reporting of above and below-the-line cast and crew employment diversity data.
“Program 2.0 has accomplished precisely what it was designed to do, from creating high-wage jobs to encouraging more out-of-zone production,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Colleen Bell. “As the industry begins to rebound from COVID-19, the launch of Program 3.0 will help continue to ensure that California provides an unparalleled value.”
Bell said that the over its five-year duration, Program 2.0 has incentivized a total of 243 film and TV projects that have generated an estimated $11 billion in overall spending across California, including $4 billion in qualified wages to below-the-line workers and $3.7 billion in payments to in-state vendors.