Phoenix Film Industry Brings In $32 Mil In 2016 — Mostly Thanks To 'Transformers'

Published: Monday, February 27, 2017 - 4:11pm
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 - 4:20pm
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(Photo courtesy of city of Phoenix)
A location shoot for an anti-smoking ad on Monroe Street in downtown Phoenix
(Photo courtesy of city of Phoenix)
A production shoot in Apache Junction.

Last year was a record year for the film and television industries in Phoenix. More than 700 productions came to town, bringing more than $32 million into the local economy.

That marks the best year for the multimedia production industry here since 2009, when the state had an incentive for films to come to the state, according to Phil Bradstock, the Phoenix Film Commissioner.

About half of this money came from one feature film that came to the Valley to shoot last year. “Transformers: The Last Knight” spent 10 days shooting here — and about $15 million.

But, Bradstock said, because Arizona doesn’t have an incentive for films to come to the state, we often are overlooked for the larger projects in the multimillion-dollar stages.

“We will get the anomaly project that comes in, like a ‘Transformers,’ that came out here specifically because of a junk yard just north of Deer Valley airport that they probably found online and has the old, classic 1950 trucks, 1970 Cameros,” he said. “They saw that, came, scouted it, loved it, said we have to film here.”

Other states offer incentives for production companies, like refundable or transferable tax credits or grants. Arizona had an incentive until 2010, which gave companies up to 30 percent in a transferable tax credit based on qualified expenditures over a million dollars in the state, according to Bradstock.

There have been efforts to reinstate that incentive in the state by a group called the Arizona Film and Media Coalition, Bradstock said, but they haven’t had much luck in the state Legislature.

So, the efforts turned toward getting the state government to reinstate the state film office, which happened last year.

However, Bradstock said there is a movement across the country to move away from these kinds of incentives.

The strongest industry here is actually commercials and industrial projects. There were 341 productions that spent more than $10 million in Phoenix last year, according to the city of Phoenix.

In order to attract more production to the state, Bradstock said our diverse geography and warm weather really helps.

“On January 1st, when all the corporations have their new advertising budgets available, they have to film their spring and summer commercials or their spring catalogue shoots for bikinis, bathing suits, you know, springtime attire,” Bradstock said. “So, out here, you’re at 70 degrees and sunny in January, and so it’s very easy for them in dependable weather.”

He also said that there’s an influx of business when spring-training baseball starts in the Valley.

“This is the one time of year when they can get all these multiple players that they have under contract in the same geographical area and shoot the commercials,” he said. “So, right now we’re in the middle of the baseball frenzy.”

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