May 3, 2022 - Business

Pennsylvania film industry seeks statehouse boost

Illustration of a Hollywood Walk of Fame star labelled "Pennsylvania".
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

M. Night Shyamalan is starting to film his new thriller "Knock at the Cabin" in Philly. Adam Sandler wrapped filming in Center City and parts of Manayunk for his Netflix basketball flick "Hustle" last fall.

  • And Pennsylvania's film industry wants to keep the big names and productions coming to town.

What's happening: Industry groups and some state legislators are calling on Pennsylvania to extend its film tax credit by nearly 80%, pushing the capped limit from $70 million to $125 million.

Why it matters: Film production is a money-maker in Pennsylvania, bringing in more than $3 billion in revenue since the tax credit began in 2007, according to state Sen. Camera Bartolotta's office.

State of play: Pennsylvania offers a tax credit to productions that spend at least 60% of their total production budget within the state.

  • The current $70 million program cap restricts the amount of film business the state can attract.
  • Bartolotta introduced SB 321, a bill to increase the state tax credit cap to $125 million, last year, but it was cut out of budget negotiations. She's hoping it can be negotiated into this year's budget.

The big picture: There's fierce competition across the country. Pennsylvania is one of 42 states that offers some form of film tax incentive.

  • Neighboring New York ranked second in top shooting locations in the nation for TV shows last year, the Hollywood Reporter reports. Its tax credit program, which is capped at $420 million annually and offers an incentive of 25%-35%, has helped the state become a production rival to California.

What they're saying: Greater Philadelphia Film Office executive director Sharon Pinkenson tells Axios that all of the state's incentive money was committed to various film projects on July 1, the first day of the fiscal year.

  • "We are turning jobs away, and it's devastating to our industry," Pinkenson says.

Bartolotta tells Axios the time is now since streaming is at an all-time high from people being shut in for almost two years. The pandemic has increased the demand for entertainment, she says.

  • "[There are] billions of dollars that can flow into Pennsylvania right now. They are knocking on our door, we're telling them, 'Nothing to see here, folks. Go to Georgia, New Jersey or New York. Don’t bring your billions to Pennsylvania,'" she says.
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