California Film Commission dishes out $138.8 million in film credits

California’s Film & TV tax credit program has unveiled 23 new movies (10 studio movies and 13 indies) to shoot in the state. This time, the California Film Commission awarded a record-setting $138.8 million in film tax credits. Earlier, the film commission used to give out $100 million to film and TV projects in an annual lottery. However, under the current system, projects are ranked based on their job creation metrics.

“We look forward to welcoming this diverse blend of films and filmmakers to the tax credit program,” said California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell. “The 23 projects announced today will bring thousands of jobs and significant economic opportunity to regions across the state.”

Netflix was the big winner this time as it got $43.3 million for three projects, including $18.5 million for the Zack Snyder’s sci-fi epic Rebel Moon. Its other winning projects are Beverly Hills Cop 4, which was awarded $15.8 million, and an untitled feature with Jonah Hill, which got $9 million.

The $138.8 million total broke the previous record for a single round of film subsidies, which was awarded $109 million in August 2016. The commission increased the amount this round due to a large rollover of unused credits from the previous rounds. Several projects were cancelled or relocated due to the current pandemic situation.

The commission typically awards anywhere from $40 million to $80 million per round, with two or three rounds per fiscal year. This round actually exceeds the state’s annual allocation to film projects, which is $132 million — or 40 per cent of the total program, with the other 60 per cent going to TV shows.

NBCUniversal and Sony got $31.1 million and $28.1 million in credits, respectively. Hill and Kenya Barris are two of the winners among talent this round. They are teaming on the untitled feature from Netflix. Hill also stars in Dixon, a Sony film that will get $14.6 million in credits, while Barris is producing a reboot of White Men Can’t Jump, from Disney, which will nab $6.5 million in credits.

“Being from California, it’s important for me to support my home state whenever I get the chance,” Hill said in a statement supplied by the film commission. “We are so thankful for The California tax credit because it will allow me to utilize the amazing crew members and locations offered here at home for my next two projects.” 

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a two-year, $180 million expansion of the TV side of the credit in July, which will bump the program up to $420 million a year. That expansion does not apply to this round of credits. Newsom also signed into law a new $150 million credit to incentivize the construction of soundstages, which will apply to either film or TV projects.

The 23 projects awarded account for $678 million in “qualified” spending on below-the-line jobs and payments to in-state vendors. The allocated films announced will employ 4,088 crew, 873 cast and 40,621 background actors/stand-ins over a combined 953 filming days the state. They will also generate significant post-production jobs and revenue for California VFX artists, sound editors, sound mixers, musicians and other workers/vendors.

The application period for the next film round, which will be the second for this fiscal year, will come in January 2022.

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