Texas Struggling to Keep Film Tax Incentives Intact

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(D-Magazine) The news that 20th Century Fox Television is shooting an X-Men-connected pilot in Dallas created plenty of excitement in (Texas). Understandably so: Marvel properties, from the silver screen Avengers to the televised B-team spin-offs, make and spend more money than Stark Industries in an up year, and there is something immeasurably cool about knowing superheroes—OK, mutants—are appearing on sets built in your own backyard.

It remains to be seen whether the pilot (working title: Gifted) will receive an order for a full season, although it’s difficult to imagine Fox executives turning down more episodes of anything even tangentially featuring X-Men. Just landing the pilot was a big get for the Dallas Film Commission, whose director, Janis Burklund, is nevertheless concerned that the project could soon be another one that got away.

“The odds of it getting picked up are very high,” Burklund says. “The odds of it staying in Dallas are very high if we get state film incentives.”

That’s an uncomfortably big if considering the tenor of ongoing discussion in Austin, where state House legislators last week discussed an amendment to end Texas’ moving image incentive program, which provides tax rebates for up to 20 percent of production costs for films, television shows, and video games made in state.

Conservative critics trying to close a budget shortfall say the program amounts to corporate welfare, the economic benefits of in-state film production are negligible, and the money could be better spent on, for example, single mothers. There is also an unavoidable conflict over cultural values and priorities at work here, which explains why the words “Mongolian death worm,” the title of a 2010 SyFy Television movie shot in Texas, were repeatedly uttered in the august halls of the Capitol last week.

See more on this battle in Texas here.

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