California is losing ground when it comes to hosting the highest-grossing films, as the global competition for Hollywood dollars intensifies.
Among the top 100 highest-grossing domestic films released in 2017, only 10 were filmed in California — the lowest level in five years and half the number in 2014, according to an annual survey by FilmL.A., which handles film permits for the Los Angeles region. When the nonprofit group began its survey in 2013, 16 of the highest-grossing films were shot in-state — tied for the top spot with Canada.
California remains in the top five of film locations worldwide, but was drubbed by Canada, which drew 20 of the 2017 releases — the most in five years. Georgia and Britain each drew 15 movies, while archrival New York had six, according to FilmL.A.
Half of the top 100 films had primary production in the United States in 2017, down from 57% in 2016 and the lowest level in five years.
Foreign production spending reached a record last year in Canada, primarily in the hubs of Ontario and British Columbia, climbing to $3.75 billion (Canadian). The report cited a favorable exchange rate and expanded provincial and federal film tax credits.
The findings underscore California’s longstanding struggle to attract large budget features — those with budgets of $100 million or more that pack the most economic punch. Though California’s incentives have expanded in recent years, they are of limited appeal to producers of expensive movies because they only apply to the first $100 million in qualified expenditures.
Four of the 10 movies produced in California were animated films. The largest live-action movie budget spent in-state was an estimated $40 million for “The House.”
In the last year, however, California has attracted some bigger features, such as “Captain Marvel” and “Bumblebee,” signaling better results for next year’s survey.
“In an age when film production is an established global enterprise, California remains a top international competitor,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said in a statement. “This report reinforces a fact that is increasingly well understood — that a skilled local workforce, robust infrastructure support, and a competitive film incentive are prerequisites for film project attraction at scale.”