Movie production may be no bonanza

Lately the cost of doing business in Southern California has been driving productions to other locales. So we recently mused the time might be right to revive Stockton as a location for motion picture production.

This city and environs used to host a fair number of movie and TV productions because the area fell outside the 300-mile union limit for extras and because the area boasts geographical diversity that can pass for a number of places.

The concept was largely just an exercise in bouncing an intriguing idea about; the bankrupt city can do little more than fight violent crime. Still, economic development is also a priority, and by some accounts movies enrich cities.

Maybe not, says the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The LAO just released a report saying movie production doesn’t make as much money for locations as ballyhooed.

Lawmakers are considering increasing tax incentives to keep movie production in California because other states are luring movie-makers away with super-generous subsidies.

But to the claim that every tax credit dollar returned $1.11 cents to the state and local governments, the LAO  countered that the real number was more like 65 cents, with an additional 35 cents for local governments.

These numbers don’t translate directly across to cities. There’s no local analysis of the costs and benefits of movie productions to Stockton; of such costs as police, and other staff time, versus revenues to such things as hotels, caterers and extras. But it does suggest Stockton should not be starry-eyed about attracting movies. 


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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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