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The Copper State is ready for its Hollywood close up as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to sign new legislation that would grant production companies millions in refundable tax credits.
Senate Bill 1708 would create the Arizona Motion Picture Production Program, which would be used to cover 15–20% of production expenses with an annual cap beginning at $75 million and rising to $125 million over three years. It would create increased opportunity and competition at a time when California, New Mexico, Georgia and Florida have become the go-to Hollywood hotspots for production within the United States.
“This is a good thing for Arizona,” Arizona representative Jennifer Londgon said, per Variety. “We’re tired of all of this creative talent driving through Arizona to get to New Mexico.”
Representative Londgon did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.
The bill, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan 21-7 vote earlier this year and is expected to be officially signed into law by the House of Representatives this week, would follow in the footsteps of the Arizona Motion Picture Production and Infrastructure Credit, which provided $22.5 million across several dozen productions between 2005 and 2010. Arizona has previously been home to a number of notable entertainment projects over the years, including the 1993 Western “Tombstone.” Yet, as tax credits have taken on increased importance in Hollywood budgeting over the last two decades, Arizona has not elicited high levels of film and TV activity.
Arizona’s Rep. Justin Wilmeth told Variety that he thinks this new bill “is the worst-case scenario for New Mexico.” Wilmeth did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The looming approval of the Arizona Motion Picture Production Program comes at a time when politics may begin influencing Hollywood decision-making to a greater degree. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, major entertainment and media studios committed to covering costs for out-of-state abortion and reproductive health services for its employees. If such actions begin to draw the eye of state governments, it could spur outspoken change.
“If states like Georgia and Florida start criminalizing crossing state lines to terminate a pregnancy, look for the talent – and, probably, the studios – to start speaking up,” Puck News co-founder Matthew Belloni wrote Monday.
Proponents of the bill argue that it will create new jobs within Arizona, leading to improved infrastructure and renewed demand in tourism. Detractors claim the tax credits fail to create sustainable high-paying jobs and point to financial losses produced by the Arizona Motion Picture Production and Infrastructure Credit.
“This is just a totally bogus thing,” Arizona Sen. Warren Petersen said in February. “Let’s leave the money in the pockets of our taxpayers, because taxpayers know how to use their money best.”