As competition for production increases, more and more US states are launching incentive programmes and, in some cases, designing them in innovative ways.
Introducing an incentive in the north-eastern border state of Michigan 'became imperative', says Janet Lockwood, director of the Michigan Film Office. 'We were losing business right and left, not only to Canada but to other (US) states.'
Lockwood is playing up the simplicity of Michigan's new incentive, of which the first beneficiary will be New Regency and 20th Century Fox's sci-fi thriller Jumper.
Rather than a tax credit, productions get a straight refund of between 12% and 20% of their Michigan expenditures, with a maximum refund per production of $2m and an annual limit across all productions of $7m.
The incentive recently introduced by north-western border state Washington offers 'funding assistance' (effectively a rebate) of up to 20% of in-state expenditures, with a $1m per-production cap. To fund the programme, state businesses are being asked to choose to put their taxes towards private non-profit entity Washington Film Works instead of the general state tax fund.
Vermont is one of the states now offering 'grants' rather than tax credits. Its Film Production Grant Program, launched last summer, reimburses 10% of the local expenditures of productions spending at least $1m in the state, with a $1m per-production cap.
Meanwhile, to stay competitive with the new entrants, a number of states are upgrading their existing incentive programmes.
Earlier this month, Mississippi, whose recent shoots have included Paramount Vantage's Black Snake Moan, increased the rebates it offers on a production's local spend from 10% to 20%-30% (depending on budget), with a $5m per-production cap.
And North Carolina, which has played host to such projects as Sony's Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, recently introduced a law to ensure that productions are able to take the full value of the 15% refundable tax credit for wages and supplies bought in state.
More new state incentives are likely to come into effect this year. A three-tiered incentive with transferable income tax credits for production companies and investors as well as breaks for local vendors, is expected to become law this spring in Iowa.
The new programmes mean almost every state in the US (as well as some major cities) now offers some kind of film production incentive.