Senator Favors Increase in Film Tax Credit

Officials from the Pittsburgh Film Office and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office say Pennsylvania could attract a lot more Hollywood business if the state legislature would consider increasing the state’s $60 million film tax credit program.

They’re lobbying for an increase to $150 million to support a program that offers a 25 percent tax credit to productions that spend 60% of their budgets in Pennsylvania. Capped at $60 million, the program this year is helping to fund eight feature films, one documentary, eight TV episodes, a pair of TV series and one TV pilot.

Senator Wayne Fontana of Pittsburgh, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Committee on Community, Economic and Recreational Development, who supports increasing the amount of money in the film tax credit program, says an increase is justifiable although he’s not certain the state can afford to hike it $150 million. He says $100 million may be more realistic. Fontana also agrees with film office officials that the state needs to establish a multiyear program instead of annual allocations which have gone up and down over the past decade.

Pennsylvania's tax credit program peaked a few years ago at $75 million, but was cut to $42 million during the recession. The tax credit incentive was increased to $60 million each of the past three years.

Supporters estimate that based on $300 million in tax credits over the past five years, film and TV productions have injected $1.4 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy and created some 18,000 jobs statewide.

Opposition to the tax credit program has decreased in recent years as state reports on the program have become more transparent, listing project names, spending amounts and economic impact.

Gov. Corbett will deliver is budget address to state lawmakers in February. A new state budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year must be approved by June 30.

On a related note, Tom Cruise filmed his latest movie in Pittsburgh and he’ll be returning to the Steel City next month for the movie’s premier.

“Jack Reacher will be shown during a red-carpet event at the SouthSide Works Cinema on December 15.

Cruise plays the film's title character, an investigator who looks into the case of a military sniper accused of killing five random victims. The movie is based on the Lee Child novel “One Shot.” Child is also expected to attend the Pittsburgh premier, as is actor Robert Duvall.

"Jack Reacher" opens nationwide December 21.

The movie was filmed in Pittsburgh during the fall of last year and earlier this year.

movie poster from Paramount Pictures

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