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Hollywood losing its spot at the top of the movie-making roster


(Reuters) - Three days before the Oscars, the Los Angeles film czar and a think tank delivered some damning news to Tinseltown: Hollywood's status as the home of American film and television production is threatened because places like New York are offering better financial incentives to studios.

The study of employment and production data released on Thursday by the Milken Institute, an economic think tank, says California has lost tens of thousands of entertainment jobs to New York and other U.S. states in the past decade, and film and television productions with them.

While it may be one of the best years for high-quality film in recent memory, with nine strong films nominated for the best picture Oscar, just one of the nine was filmed in California.

Ken Ziffren, a veteran California attorney recently appointed as Hollywood's film czar by the mayor of Los Angeles, said the report showed Hollywood was in a "bad spiral," both in terms of jobs and productions leaving California.

Ziffren repeated a call for an expanded California film and tax credit, as did the Milken report - an issue that is politically controversial.

Proponents say it is vital to keep middle-class jobs and film production in the state. Opponents say wealthy Hollywood studios don't need another tax break and question whether further financial incentives will produce a net gain in jobs and revenue.

The report by the Milken Institute, headquartered in Santa Monica, California, but with a national and international perspective, said California lost 16,137 film and TV industry jobs between 2004 and 2012, based on U.S. Labor Department statistics.

During the same period, the report said, New York state gained 10,675 entertainment jobs.

"California is losing film and television productions to New York and other states," the report said. "The data shows that other states are being more effective in using their incentives to bring in new productions and create jobs."

The report said the loss of jobs was particularly troublesome because it represented the exodus of middle-class wage earners with high pay, an average of $98,500 per person, and businesses that thrive on the movie industry such as caterers.


California has a tax-credit program, but essentially only productions with budgets of $75 million or less qualify for the rebate of 20 percent to 25 percent.

Proponents of legislation under consideration in California want the incentives to cover big-budget movies, as well as television pilots and dramas.

New York offers tax credits of between 30 percent and 35 percent and allocates more money - $420 million annually - out of its budget to give incentives to film and television production there, roughly four times what is awarded in California.

Other states such as Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico have also drawn jobs and production from California in recent years through tax credits.

The Milken report says that production in California hit its peak in 2004, when 128 films were made there, while 50 were filmed in New York. In 2012, other states offering incentives were involved in 142 films, compared with 104 in California.

Of the nine movies nominated for best picture Oscar on Sunday, only "Her," the science fiction romantic drama starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, was made in California. It had a relatively low budget of $25 million.

(Editing by Mary Milliken and Jan Paschal)

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fineslady1 March 01 2014 at 7:14 PM

our films have been way to violent for a family of an elder.. to sexual.. no one wants to see them.. we will watch anything but,,,in the hay say of hollowood.. writers knew how to write,. it seems a lost art.. sound men knew how to make the sound autable... and directors knew how to direct a humerous movie ,with perhaps double meanings that skipped over youngsters heads.. you could go to a move an forgets your days worries,, walk out refreshed laughing or smileing at best...inturn handleing the day in a better frame of mind... duck dynesty has it! Hollywood dosent! killing and murder and drugs we read every day in the news papers.. depressing as it is.. no wants to pay top dollarto see it all recreated.. In fact they are the ones who have influnced all the crime.....

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wb7ptr March 01 2014 at 8:40 PM

Louisiana gives something like a 30 percent credit to filmmakers making a movie there. I'm involved some in film there, although not the production end. Not yet at least.

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1 reply
molly2peaches wb7ptr March 01 2014 at 9:04 PM

Keep after it. Some friends of mine got electrical work on the Avengers movies filmed here in Cleveland.

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ilove1read March 01 2014 at 9:45 PM

As goes the government these day, so goes Hollywood.

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RockNHula March 01 2014 at 4:40 PM

The reason California is losing movie business interest is because of over regulation.

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1 reply
topazmee RockNHula March 01 2014 at 8:27 PM

Hollywood lacks talent.... and creativity ....movies are just not interesting.

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kneelingcraig March 01 2014 at 11:54 PM

After working for almost 7 years in the film industry my job dried up because the studios could use "local hires" in New Mexico, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana. When they can save on housing, per diem, car rental and travel it makes financial sense for the studio but it sucks for me. I was out of work for 17 months and now I don't even work in film anymore.

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tabasko32 March 02 2014 at 12:13 AM

California 's Arnie fooled us all.He promised more movies in California .And now Jerry is giving the movie industry the finger too.I have been a vendor for over 37 years and I have seen other vendors go under.All trades of the industry are down, And LA has another dummy as mayor.promises .promises ,promises....I have gone from $80,000. a year to $ 45,000, a year...The only ting going on is some TV shows.no money there. and some pilots...at smaller studios going going broke

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JJDueweke March 02 2014 at 12:17 AM

Hollywood's movies used to have a moral message. Today, Hollywood's movies appear to have an immoral message. Where will that type of guidance lead?

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1 reply
allini JJDueweke March 02 2014 at 12:45 AM

70 years ago maybe. LOL.

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1 reply
smg85051 allini March 02 2014 at 1:00 AM

Not so LOL allini. 70-something years ago there were great movies, quality movies...not necessarily moralistic films. Today it's about quantity and how many $$$ it will bring in on the opening weekend, then it's straight to video and the trash barrel. Twenty years from now no one will be talking about 98% of the movies made in the last twenty years--Charlie's Angels, The Dukes of Hazard, Bewitched--all crap remakes--anything made by the likes of Will Ferrel (?) the Wayan Bros, Jim Carrie (?) the vast majority of Saturday Night Live alumni (God help us all). Yeah, most of the "films" made today eat fecal matter on a stick but that's (apparently) what generation Y and Z like to throw their money at.

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Ripper March 02 2014 at 12:26 AM

Wow, you know just once I would think someone in the news media would have caught up to my intellect. I am far from being conceded. But the fact of the matter is I constantly see articles like this in the news and thought of this stuff years ago. I have been saying hollywood has been going down the tubes now for almost 10 straight years. With making reality TV, shoddy weak movies and crappy remakes of everything they can think of and then some. The movie industry has become a major joke and everyone knows its finally official.

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2 replies
allini Ripper March 02 2014 at 12:44 AM

Did you read the article? The movie industry is doing just fine. The joke is on you.

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lorddanp Ripper March 02 2014 at 12:46 AM

Spelled "conceited" :)

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1 reply
drumbeater7 lorddanp March 02 2014 at 1:11 AM

i before e except after c. get back to grammar school.

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zentalent March 02 2014 at 12:58 AM

maybe hollyweird film people should make the same as a plumber or nurse.

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Brian Workman March 02 2014 at 1:02 AM

How can you stay on top, when they keep making Socialist/Marxist /Perverted Movies!?

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