On Location: state film tax credit helps keep Carell movie in L.A.

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Steve Carell’s latest romantic comedy was originally set in a nondescript suburb in New York or New Jersey.

But the actor’s tight schedule and starring role in NBC’s locally shot sitcom ‘The Office,’ combined with California’s film tax credit, made Los Angeles more attractive. So the setting was changed.

The star of the current release ‘Date Night’ and ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ recently began shooting the movie about a harried father and his marital woes in various locations in the L.A. area.

Carell is starring in and producing the untitled film through his company, Carousel Productions, which is based at Warner Bros. in Burbank. Denise Di Novi is also a producer on the film.


The movie, which also stars Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and Marisa Tomei, features Carell as a husband struggling with a marriage gone sour and a strained relationship with his children.

Written by Dan Fogelman (writer on the Disney/Pixar animated hit ‘Cars’), the film will be distributed by Warner Bros., which along with Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems label has been one of the most aggressive studios in taking advantage of California’s new film tax credit aimed at keeping production from leaving Hollywood’s backyard.

The California Film Commission has approved more than $20 million in state film tax credits for Warner Bros. films expected to shoot in L.A. this year. Among them is ‘A Star Is Born,’ a remake of the 1976 film that is expected to star Russell Crowe; ‘Blended,’ a comedy about the merging of two families from ‘Valentine’s Day’ producer Mike Karz; and ‘Horrible Bosses,’ a dark comedy in which friends conspire to murder their awful bosses. The film is to be produced by Warner Bros.’ New Line Cinema unit and directed by Seth Gordon.

Carell’s project, which has a budget of about $35 million, received approval for a tax credit totaling $5 million, according to state records.

The credit was certainly a factor in the decision to shoot locally, said David Siegel, the movie’s unit production manager.

‘It’s not quite as aggressive as what other states offered, but it certainly helped,’' Siegel said of California’s film tax credit program, which offers producers of films costing up to $75 million a tax credit of 20% of qualified production expenses. The program, which is capped at $100 million a year, allows companies to apply their credit against whatever income and/or sales and use taxes they owe the state.

About 250 crew members and actors are working on the film. The 53-day shoot began April 16, featuring scenes shot at the Century City mall, the Sherman Oaks Galleria and the Pinot Bistro restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. The crew also plans to shoot in some neighborhoods in Altadena — where Carell’s character lives — and possibly at schools in Woodland Hills and Long Beach, Siegel said.

‘We’re not blowing anything up,’' Siegel quipped. ‘There are no car chases.’

And, one of the added bonuses: ‘There are a lot of happy people on my movie that get to stay in town.’

-Richard Verrier