The number of top-grossing films made in California has dropped 60% in the last 15 years.
A big share of TV production has also left the state, as the Los Angeles Times reports today:
“All that business has gone to other states that offer filmmakers a better deal. About 40 states — North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and New York prominent among them — now give tax breaks to movie and TV producers. In 2012, those tax breaks, rebates and grants totaled $1.5 billion, according to the Times analysis.
“One producer who has taken advantage of the growing phenomenon is Gregory Bonann, the man who gave the world “Baywatch.” Bonann has not left the beach with his new TV series, “SAF3,” a show that features fictional stories about an elite rescue task force in Malibu. But he has left California. Early in the planning stages for the new series, Bonann decided to save money by taking advantage of the tax incentives in North Carolina and was set to shoot there. Then, he was offered an even sweeter deal in South Africa. California could not compete.
“California leaders may need to be even more proactive if the state is to retain its signature industry. But more than the movie business is in play in the competition between states. There is a wide range of companies the states are trying to steal from one another in a spiral of ever-more-generous tax breaks. Some economists now say many states are giving away so much revenue that the price being paid may outweigh the benefit.
“A very recent case in point: In what is being cited as the biggest single example of “corporate welfare” in U.S. history, the Washington state legislature awarded tax breaks worth $8.7 billion to Boeing in order to guarantee that the company’s next jet, the 777X, would be built at the Boeing plant north of Seattle. Even though Boeing has a 100-year history in Washington, corporate leaders made it clear they were ready to shift production to California, South Carolina, Texas or any other state if they could get a sweeter offer.
“As Boeing is to Seattle, the entertainment industry is to Los Angeles. It was once unthinkable that most movies and TV shows would be made anywhere else. It’s not so unthinkable anymore.”