Monday, June 21, 2010

"WEEKLY UPDATE" From Kelly Graham-Scherer, Los Angeles Marketing Agent

Michigan Film Commissioner Janet Lockwood resigned last week amid continuing controversy over how film and television tax credits are administered in that state. Lockwood has been an enthusiastic and high-profile booster of Michigan's industry and a familiar face to me at LA marketing events over the last several months. Her resignation, along with that of an aide to a state representative announced yesterday, has reiterated for me the continued importance of highlighting Ontario's record of stability and reliability with regards to its tax incentives. I spoke to many of you last week about how these qualities are swiftly becoming our jurisdiction's greatest asset as newer and flashier incentives programs are facing increasing scrutiny in competing jurisdictions. You can read more about the scandal in Michigan below in the Michigan Messenger, which continues to identify film and television tax credits as an election issue in that state... controversy-over-tax-incentives

With regards to film and television tax credits, another interesting issue is emerging in several US jurisdictions and I think it is one to watch: the New York Times reports below that states are increasingly reviewing the content of the projects that are applying for tax credits. The piece talks at length about how Michigan's Janet Lockwood recently rejected an application from established filmmaker Andrew van den Houten due to the violent and graphic nature of his script and reports that film offices from Texas to Florida to Georgia are grappling with whether to apply content restrictions to their incentives.

Over the last several months I have heard time and time again that tax credits are the soft money that gets pictures made. I have heard state film commissioners refer to themselves as equity partners and I heard one ask a panel of production executives if they considered her a co-producer: that state film offices are starting to flex their muscles with regards to content does not surprise me. Although Canadian jurisdictions are not immune (Bill C-10 anyone?) I sense that this is an issue poised to gain traction in the US, especially in conservative jurisdictions...

An addendum to the above: Andrew van den Houten said in the Times that he will move his picture to Massechusetts where the "subsidy program has no apparent strictures on extreme horror". Just one day later a story about his pending application appeared in the Boston Herald and referred to his project as "taxpayer-funded cannibalism"...

The Los Angeles Times reports that booming business in Georgia has resulted in the opening of a new 30-acre studio complex. Since beefing up its incentive in 2008 Georgia has emerged among the top five states in the US for film production, attracting such movies as The Blind Side, Zombieland and the fifth installment of Universal's Fast & Furious franchise... georgia-booms.html

Also from the Los Angeles Times, despite opposition from the major Hollywood studios, federal regulators voted 3 to 2 on Monday to approve an investment vehicle that will allow professional traders to bet on the ticket sales that a movie generates during its opening weekend...,0,6162556.story

And finally Canadian Business reports that Telefilm Canada and the OMDC congratulate Splice, a Canada-France co production supported by both organizations, for exceeding the million dollar mark after just one week in Canadian theatres. Opening Friday, June 4, Splice generated box office sales of $1.12 million across 170 screens in Canada in its first week. At time of writing the US box office for Splice was more than $14.3 million...

You will find the full text for linked articles below my signature. Please feel free to distribute this widely and contact me with feedback. Have a great weekend.

Warmest regards,
Kelly Graham-Scherer
Los Angeles Marketing Consultant

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