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Los Angeles On-Location Film Production Drops 18.5% in Second Quarter

Variety logo Variety 7/12/2017 Dave McNary
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On-location feature film production in Greater Los Angeles fell 18.5% in the second quarter to 1,067 shoot days, according to the FilmL.A. permitting agency.

The report, issued on Wednesday, also showed that the region’s overall off-lot second-quarter production declined 4.7% to 9,466 days. FilmL.A. president Paul Audley told Variety the declines are not surprising in the wake of 2016’s record 6.2% spike in overall production, thanks in part to California’s expanded production incentive program — which covers up to 25% of production costs.

“Declines in any category need to be put in context: the year-to-date comparison for the last seven years shows 2017 is second only to 2016 for total shoot days,” he said. “It’s nothing to panic about.”

The feature film category rose 12% to 4,865 days last year, including a 22.5% jump in the fourth quarter, making 2016 the most active year for movies since the state launched its Film & Television Tax Credit Program in 2009. Despite the second quarter slide in that category, it was a strong improvement from the first quarter, rising 43% from 729 days — which was the lowest level in five years.

California’s production incentive program produced 232 days, or 22% of the category, 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.”

Audley said that he’s expecting the feature film category to improve in the current quarter, given the fact that 22 projects received conditional allocations of state tax credits in February — requiring that production begin within 180 days. Those included “A Star Is Born”; Universal’s Steve Carell drama, based on the documentary “Marwencol,” with an $8 million allocation; and a pair of Lionsgate projects: “Plus One” and “White Girl Problems.”

TV comedy dropped 9% to 382 shoot days during the second quarter and web-based TV also fell 21.8% to 412 days. But for the first two quarters, both categories are at record highs for the last seven years.

TV reality production edged down 1% to 1,285 days and TV pilots plunged 60.4% to 110 days, prompting FilmL.A. to note, “The drop in TV pilot production mirrors the results of FilmL.A.’s forthcoming 2017 pilot study, which shows fewer pilots were ordered by networks over the last year. As a result, production centers from L.A. to New York saw declines in the category.”

TV drama production fell 24.3% to 789 days due to several show cancellations in 2017. Dramas that were in production in the second quarter of 2016 that were not shooting in 2017 include “Gilmore Girls,” “Good Girls Revolt,” “Hand of God,” “Mistresses,” “Roadies,” “Sweet/Vicious,” and “The Catch.” Still the category is having its third-best year of the last seven, trailing only 2016 and 2015.

TV dramas generated 291 incentivized days, or 37% percent of the category. TV pilots yielded 57 incentivized shoot days, or 52% of the category. Los Angeles-based TV series that are receiving the tax credit include “Heathers,” “Here, Now,” “Law & Order True Crime,” “Major Crimes,” “The Orville,” “Sharp Objects,” “Shooter,” and “American Horror Story.”

FilmL.A. also said the commercials category saw a 12.5% increase to 1,398 shoot days in the quarter.

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