Arizona was once a favorite film location for major filmmakers. The diverse terrain was ideal for filming classic movies such as The Searchers, Star Wars VI, Forrest Gump, Tombstone, and hundreds more. Other states took notice, which led to states offering competitive tax incentives to lure Hollywood dollars out of California and into their backyards. Arizona offered a feeble
incentive for a few years and, instead of improving it to a meaningful program, dropped it entirely in 2010. It proved to be a terrible decision. Over the past five years, film, television, and streaming production has nearly tripled and grown to an unbelievable 100-billion-dollar industry. Arizona was no longer a player and lost billions in revenue to New Mexico, Georgia, Texas, and other states.
But, Arizona has stepped up. State Senator David Gowan and his co-sponsors crafted a new
incentive specifically built to inspire filmmakers to come back to Arizona. The bill passed, and
the program goes into effect on January 1, 2023. The incentive is not a "giveaway." Productions must spend their money and pay taxes on all their activity in Arizona to qualify for a credit. They must apply and qualify for the program, and all qualifying expenditures will be audited and certified. It is structured to benefit the state in many ways.
1. Private Investment. The incentive requires film and television producers to use qualified
facilities. Currently, two investor groups are planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build two separate soundstage facilities. This will be a door opener for similar investments in other locations across the state.
2. Job Creation. The incentive requires pre- and post-production in the state. Thousands of
jobs will be created, including cast and crew, editors, carpenters, painters, and employment for all aspects in film making.
3. Local Spending. Film dollars are not limited to companies specifically involved in filmmaking. Productions spend money on lodging, food, vehicle rentals, construction supplies, props, and local retail establishments. The local spending by productions filmed primarily in Arizona is staggering.
4. Career Feeder Programs. Many Arizona universities have film programs. In the past, the
state-educated local talent only to have them move to other states for employment. The
incentive allows Arizona-educated professionals to be employed locally and stay in Arizona.
5. Diversification. For generations, the five C's (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus, and Climate) were the driving force behind Arizona's economic security. The incentive plan is designed to help diversify the state's economy and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars from a rapidly growing industry.
6. Tourism Boom. Arizona's geography is unique. Showing the state's diverse landscapes on
film advertises Arizona as a vacation destination. New film production projects will create
additional destinations to draw visitors to Arizona.
7. Statewide Impact. The entire state has the potential to be used as a film location. Film
production will not be limited to Phoenix and Tucson. Small towns and communities across the entire state will benefit from film production.
With its new, thoroughly studied, and carefully crafted Motion Picture Tax Credit, Arizona will
again be a film-friendly place of business ideally suited to reap the monetary rewards of hosting major film productions. Arizona has successfully competed to draw companies and industries of all types, resulting in an economic boon on many levels. The tax credit adds a $100-billion megaindustry to that roster to benefit every corner of Arizona!
About the Mescal Movie Set
The Mescal Movie Set is home for the hit movies Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, and over 100 other western films. It is in historical and beautiful Cochise County, Arizona. Many iconic stars have walked its dusty streets, including Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Sharon Stone, Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, Gene Hackman, and many more. But time took its toll, and the set was nearing demolition. Thankfully, local ranchers acquired the property and didn't let this essential piece of western history be lost. The set is currently being renovated as an authentic western town and available as a film location.
Mescal Movie Set