Louisiana politician sees Hollywood gold in state’s future

LOS ANGELES — Check out this story from the New York Times about the burgeoning film industry in Louisiana.

We’ve had the Square Deal, the Fair Deal and the New Deal.

Now, Billy Nungesser, who has been the lieutenant governor of Louisiana since January, is pondering what could be called the Reel Deal.

With the state’s substantial film and television production incentives under pressure because of a budget crisis that arrived with falling oil prices, Mr. Nungesser is proposing a novel approach: Louisiana will extend the incentives in return for a promise that taxpayers will share in the profits from any big winners at the box office.

Louisiana, which spends up to $180 million annually on movie and television incentives, has already witnessed the power of a global blockbuster. Under a program that currently underwrites about 30 percent of qualified expenses on a film, with a number of restrictions and limits, the state paid part of the $150 million or more than it cost to make “Jurassic World.”

One of the next major films receiving incentives from Louisiana is “Deepwater Horizon,” starring Mark Wahlberg. The movie is about the 2010 oil spill that polluted the Gulf of Mexico, and much of Plaquemines Parish, where Mr. Nungesser was parish president. Its release by Lionsgate and its Summit Entertainment unit in September will find Louisiana supporting a movie that highlights the inherent risks of its already hard-pressed oil industry.

“Deepwater Horizon” could make things stickier for Mr. Nungesser. But Governor Edwards, he said, has expressed willingness to join him in exploring longterm fixes to the incentives program, including, perhaps, his preliminary proposal that Hollywood share at least part of its profits.

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Source: The New York Times


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