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California is still short on big movies, FilmLA says

California is still short on big movies, FilmLA says
A scene from "Straight Outta Compton," filmed on location in Southern California. (Universal Pictures)

Fewer than one in five movies released in theaters last year were shot in California, according to a new study that highlights the competitive challenges the state faces for Hollywood's money.

A study by FilmLA Inc, a nonprofit group that handles film permits in the city and county, found that of the 109 feature films released theatrically in the U.S. in 2015, only 19 – or 17% – were made in the Golden State. That's down from a 21% share in 2014, when 22 of 106 films released were filmed in California.

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The third annual report found that while California had an edge in total project count, it faced stiff competition for feature films from rivals led by Britain (which had 15 films), Georgia and Louisiana (12) and Canada (11). Those locations offer more generous film incentives than are available in California.

Meanwhile, New York fell out of the top five production centers in 2015 with only seven films.

In all, the 19 projects that filmed in California brought in an estimated $720 million in total production spending in state. Still, California's production spending was easily dwarfed by Britain's $1.63 billion.

California's share of the movie business has steadily declined over the years as more countries and states have lured film crews with tax breaks and rebates.

When local film production peaked in 1997, 64% of the top 25 movies at the box office were filmed in California. Last year, for the first time ever, California did not host any of the top 25 live-action movies released in theaters.

The only films with budgets over $100 million that were produced in California were animated projects – Disney-Pixar's "Inside Out" and DreamWorks Animation's "Home."

Nearly half of the projects that did film in California took advantage of the expanded state film and television tax credit program, which was approved by state lawmakers to help curtail the exodus of production. Among the films that received tax credits last year were "Straight Outta Compton," "Entourage" and "Insidious Chapter 3."

"This report highlights both the aggressiveness of our competitors for feature film projects and the effectiveness of California's Film and Television Tax Credit program," FilmLA President Paul Audley said in a statement.

Twitter: @villarrealy

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