New Mexico’s film business gets a lift from “The Avenger”


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Score one for New Mexico, California’s arch rival when it comes to filming.
In one of his final acts as New Mexico’s Governor, Bill Richardson announced Wednesday that the film industry he has long championed has landed a big catch: the comic book superhero movie ‘The Avengers.’

The Marvel Studios film, written and directed by Joss Whedon and featuring a raft of stars including Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel Jackson, will film begin filming at Albuquerque Studios in New Mexico in April. Parts of the movie also will be shot in New York and Michigan.

With a budget exceeding $200 million, the film represents the biggest ever to film to be shot New Mexico, which has hosted such movies as ‘Terminator Salvation’ and ‘In the Valley of Elah.’
‘I’m announcing this as a Christmas present of sorts to the people of New Mexico,’’ Richardson said in a statement. ‘This is a perfect example of the incredible job creation, economic impact and global visibility this industry has brought our state over the past eight years, and of the need to keep it moving forward.’

The news comes at a welcome time for New Mexico, which bills itself as ‘Hollywood’s Newest Home’
but has faced growing competition from some of the more than 40 states that offer tax incentives and rebates to filmmakers. New Mexico offers a 25% rebate on production costs. That’s better than California’s film tax credit program, which excludes movies with budgets of more than $75 million, but is well below what states such as Michigan offer.
It’s not clear whether Walt Disney Co.-owned Marvel, which filmed its ‘Iron Man’ movies locally and has been shooting ‘Captain America’ in London, considered shooting in Southern California.
But Marvel favored New Mexico not only because of its rebate, but because of its diverse landscape, close proximity to L.A. and a good experience the studio had in the state during the of filming ‘Thor,’ people familiar with the matter said.
-Richard Verrier