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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Seeks to Raise State Production Tax Incentives to at Least $500 Million

Variety logo Variety 7/20/2017 Dave McNary
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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is promising to push for an increase in California’s production tax incentives to at least $500 million annually — up more than 50% from the current $330 million figure.

“We must make sure, first and foremost, that the film industry not only stays strong but expands,” he said Thursday morning in a speech before about 400 attendees, hosted by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce at the Loews Hotel.

“This is an opportunity for us to not rest on our laurels and to show that we aren’t going backwards any more,” he added. “When the legislature comes back to this issue, we should be going to $500 million or more. Maybe even no limit.”

Garcetti, who was re-elected in March, had highlighted during his campaign that he had been active in pushing the state legislature to expand the tax credit program from $100 million annually.

He said Thursday that top execs say the program doesn’t go far enough, adding, “A studio head was saying to me yesterday that it’s too darn hard to get that credit, so we need to take this moment and bring productions back.”

The credit will run out after the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The 2015-16 fiscal year marked a major expansion of the seven-year-old tax credit program, aimed at halting the erosion of California-based production to states with bigger incentives, such as Georgia and New York. Applications are ranked on how many jobs they will produce, rather than being selected by lottery.

The credit is set at 20%, but producers are eligible for an additional 5% “uplift” if they relocate a TV series from another state, shoot outside the L.A. zone, commit to music scoring or music track recording in the state, or to do visual effects in California. NBC’s drama “Timeless” announced in June that it was shifting production for its second season from Vancouver to California — the 12th TV series to relocate in order to receive the state’s production tax credit.

California’s production incentive program produced 232 days of location feature film shooting in Los Angeles during the second quarter, including MGM’s remake of “Valley Girl”; the Warner Bros. reboot of “A Star Is Born” with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper; Denzel Washington’s “Inner City” (retitled “Roman Israel, Esq.”); and Jodie Foster’s thriller “Hotel Artemis.”

Garcetti’s speech also touted last week’s presentation to the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland, which resulted in the panel agreeing that Los Angeles and Paris should hold the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics, pending negotiations to work out which city will go first.

“Los Angeles will always be a city that meets its challenges,” he said. “The Olympics is a perfect example. We presented who we are, this hub of creativity and technology. … They could not say no to the America they love to love.”

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