RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has set a record for in-state film production spending this year with five months left to go.
The North Carolina Film Office reported Wednesday that 35 films have accounted for $300 million in spending this year. The previous record of a little more than $220 million was set last year when “The Hunger Games” was filmed in the western portion of the state.
A news release from Gov. Beverly Perdue’s office estimates the films have created more than 15,000 jobs and 3,300 crew positions this year. The filmmaking has taken place in 30 of the state’s 100 counties.
A spokesman for the film office said the movie companies self-report the estimates which are later audited by the state.
Movies that have filmed in the state this year include “Iron Man 3,” ”Safe Haven,” ”We’re the Millers,” ”Jessabelle” and “Writers.”
The governor’s office and film industry advocates credit the upswing to 2010 legislation that provided productions with a 25 percent tax credit based on their in-state spending on goods, services and labor. The tax break is refundable, meaning that qualifying film companies who didn’t owe that much in North Carolina taxes get a check from taxpayers.
The tax break was set to expire in 2014, but the N.C. House voted just before midnight on one of the last days of the summer legislative session to extend the tax credit for one year.
Critics estimated the loss in tax revenue to cost the state $60 million.
Film proponents say the tax rate has been a boon to local economies.
Johnny Griffin, director of The Wilmington Regional Film Commission, said the tax breaks have bolstered small businesses. The film commission covers 11 counties in southeastern N.C. and account for up to $200 million of the state’s $300 million figure, he said.
“It’s been a total game changer for us as far as the volume of work that we have,” Griffin said of the tax-break legislation.
He hopes the region can bring in $225 million by the end of the year — more than what was taken in statewide in 2011.
Aaron Syrett, Director of N.C. film office, said the 2012 figures have been a pleasant surprise.
“My goal was $275 million for the year,” Syrett said. “We’ve obviously surpassed that. What’s the new goal? I’m not even sure.”
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