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US tax incentives likely to drop, conference told

US state tax incentives are likely to drop in the coming years, a senior studio executive told attendees at a finance summit in Los Angeles.

“All of [the tax incentives] are going to be changing over the next few years,” Warner Bros vp of feature production Karen Fouts said on a panel at the Bloomberg BNA | CITE 12th annual International Film & TV Finance Summit.

“The states are looking at them a lot differently,” said Fouts. “We’re in for a lot of changes. They’re not going away but there are going to go down a bit.”

Some participants on the panel on tax accounting issues in feature production finance voiced frustration over complex state-level bureaucracy and frequent long waits before productions can accrue benefits.

“Tax incentives are the bane of our existence,” said Peter Wentzel of Media Rights Capital Studios (MRC), who earlier in the session explained how the company shot the Netflix original series House Of Cards [pictured] in Maryland and commended local authorities whom he said “bent over backwards” to accommodate the political drama.

Because the state’s cap was relatively low, Maryland could only guarantee the first season. Wentzel and his MRC colleagues are awaiting the passage of legislation to increase the cap before they decide whether they can return for new seasons.

Event co-chair Vinca Jarrett of FilmPro Finance gave presentations about independent film financing and recoupment and moderated several panels.

The summit, which ran over Mar 21 and 22 at the Luxe Sunset Blvd Hotel in Los Angeles, included sessions on network and cable TV funding, branded entertainment, labour issues and distribution strategy.

Producer Cassian Elwes delivered the keynote address and other participants included Cinema Management Group head Edward Noeltner, Maarten Melchoir of Fintage House, The Exchange head Brian O’Shea, Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions, Kattie Kotok from the British Film Commission, Deb Macintosh of WME Global, Peter Graham of 120db, Doug Hansen from Endgame Entertainment and Michael Benaroya of Benaroya Pictures.

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