Push is on to raise Ohio film tax incentive to $100 million

'The Avengers' films in downtown Cleveland
There’s a bill before the Ohio General Assembly poised to more than double the Motion Picture Tax Credit, lifting the benefit from $40 million per fiscal year to $100 million. The goal is to expand the state’s budding film industry by attracting more film, television and theater production.

The tax credit played a pivotal role in the state landing bigger budget films, like The Avengers, Alex Cross, and Captain America: Winter Soldier. In recent years, however, states with larger tax incentives have lured those productions away.

Georgia, for example, offers a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production, throwing in another 10 percent if the film includes the state’s logo in its end credits. Broderick Johnson, producer of The Blind Side, referred to the credit as “one of the best, if not the best, in the country,” in an interview with Variety. There appears to be no cap, which is why the state has become the Hollywood of the East.

Competing for more film production

Raising Ohio’s cap to $100 million would boost the state’s ability to compete for productions and, according to Ivan Schwarz, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, via cleveland.com, it may give the state one of the “best incentives in the United States, which will make us more competitive than anybody.”

“The incentive is applied to the film’s budget line and, in turn, the incentive is then spent in Ohio,” Schwarz explained to Midwest Movie Maker previously. “That money never leaves the state. It’s spent on local crews and cast, locations, local vendors, hotels, restaurants, shops and so on.”

The goal, as always, is to encourage the evolution of a permanent production economy in Ohio.

Broadway joins the club

If passed, the incentive would include Broadway theater productions. Plays and musicals that run in Ohio for at least five weeks, with at least six performances a week, would qualify. Off-Broadway adaptive versions would be eligible as well. Only New York, Chicago and New Hampshire provide tax benefits to Broadway productions.

The theater incentive could be a boon for Cleveland, home to one of the country’s largest theater districts, second only to New York.


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