California lures ‘Babylon’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ films with $30 million

"La-La Land" director Damien Chazelle
“Babylon,” an upcoming movie by Oscar-winning “La-La Land” director Damien Chazelle, was conditionally approved for a $17.5 million tax film tax credit.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

“Babylon,” a new movie by Oscar-winning “La-La Land” director Damien Chazelle about the early days of Hollywood, is in line to get a nearly $18 million tax break from California.

The Paramount Pictures movie is among 13 feature films that were conditionally approved for more than $72 million in state film tax credits during the most recent application period held Oct. 7-11, the California Film Commission said Wednesday.

Warner Bros. Pictures also was approved for a $12 million credit for a remake of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Other approved projects include Amazon Studios’ untitled high school drama from Paul Thomas Anderson ($3.7 million), and “24/7,” a Universal Studios comedy directed and produced by Eva Longoria with Kerry Washington and Paul Feig ($3.7 million), the commission said.

The mix of studio and independent movies is estimated to generate $376 million in spending for wages for technical crew and in-state vendors, the commission said.


“Babylon” alone will account for $83.4 million of that spending with the 13 projects employing an estimated 1,960 crew members, 698 cast members, and 26,119 background actors over 587 days of filming in the state, not accounting for post-production work, according to the Commission.

Six of the films will shoot outside of Los Angeles in Butte, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco and Ventura counties.

The Commission said 54 film projects applied for the program, which awards credits based on various factors, including how many jobs they create.

Production companies can use the credits to offset tax liabilities they have with the state totaling 20% to 25% of qualified costs, such as money spent on hiring crews and building sets.


The new incentive program was enacted in 2014, when legislation was passed to triple the size of California’s film and television production incentive from $100 million to $330 million annually. It was extended last year for another five years.

The $1.1 billion tax credit allocation is estimated to have generated $8.4 billion in direct in-state spending during its four years, including $3 billion in wages to below-the-line crew and $2.6 billion in spending with vendors, the Commission said.