Hollywood film production in 'bad spiral' as competition bites

Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:15pm EST
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By Tim Reid

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three days before the Oscars, the Los Angeles film czar and a think tank delivered some damning news to Tinseltown: Hollywood's status as the home of American film and television production is threatened because places like New York are offering better financial incentives to studios.

The study of employment and production data released on Thursday by the Milken Institute, an economic think tank, says California has lost tens of thousands of entertainment jobs to New York and other U.S. states in the past decade, and film and television productions with them.

While it may be one of the best years for high-quality film in recent memory, with nine strong films nominated for the best picture Oscar, just one of the nine was filmed in California.

Ken Ziffren, a veteran California attorney recently appointed as Hollywood's film czar by the mayor of Los Angeles, said the report showed Hollywood was in a "bad spiral," both in terms of jobs and productions leaving California.

Ziffren repeated a call for an expanded California film and tax credit, as did the Milken report - an issue that is politically controversial.

Proponents say it is vital to keep middle-class jobs and film production in the state. Opponents say wealthy Hollywood studios don't need another tax break and question whether further financial incentives will produce a net gain in jobs and revenue.

The report by the Milken Institute, headquartered in Santa Monica, California, but with a national and international perspective, said California lost 16,137 film and TV industry jobs between 2004 and 2012, based on U.S. Labor Department statistics.

During the same period, the report said, New York state gained 10,675 entertainment jobs.   Continued...

A man sets a digital display above the red carpet during preparations for the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif