Were you under the impression that all film production had packed up and moved to Vancouver, Romania, or other places where it’s so cold that they regularly forget to collect taxes? Us too! Turns out that Hollywood is still making big tent poles locally, but just not very many — only three films with budgets larger than $80 million are scheduled to shoot in Los Angeles this year, down from 21 last year and a peak of 71 in 1996.
To rectify this, the L.A. City Council is proposing the appointment of a “film czar” to act as a liaison between government and studios, and last week saw the passage of the $500 million “Ugly Betty tax credit” for producers (so named because the show moved from L.A. to New York last year, costing the city $80,000 in revenue).
Problem is, nobody thinks any of this will actually work, since filming in Los Angeles is still prohibitively expensive compared to lots of other places (“Saving $1 million on a $50 million movie would be welcome … but it’s not going to change your life, or your decision,” says one pessimistic film exec). So, until the economy rebounds and studios can throw money around like they did in 2007, palm trees and In-N-Out Burgers will just have to be added digitally to bleak Romanian landscapes.