Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ a Success: California Film Commission

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By David McAfee

“A Wrinkle in Time” comes out March 9—but it’s already a success for the California Tax Commission that awarded Disney $18 million in tax credits for its production.

The commission announced in 2016 that it had selected “A Wrinkle in Time,” along with 27 other productions, as part of its expanded film and television tax credit program. The Disney film, which had a budget of more than $100 million, wouldn’t have qualified for the $18 million in tax credits under California’s prior program.

Commission officials were “thrilled” the producers of the project chose to film in California, according to Executive Director Amy Lemisch.

“A project of its size and scope employs hundreds of skilled crewmembers and generates spending at thousands of support businesses,” Lemisch told Bloomberg Tax in a March 7 emailed statement. “In this case, the spending directly impacted businesses across the state, as ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ filmed at many diverse locations unique to California such as our Redwood Forests.”

Luring ‘Tentpole’ Projects

The commission says California’s expanded film and television tax credit program is helping to lure “tentpole” projects like “A Wrinkle in Time,” which was the first big-budget film to receive approval. The program seeks to keep producers from filming in other states.

California said last year that the expanded program is helping to reverse the state’s “prolonged drought when it comes to big-budget feature film production.” Other tentpole projects include “Call of the Wild,” for which Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. received more than $17 million in tax credits, and a Quentin Tarantino film that was untitled at the time of announcement but has been widely reported as crime drama “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

“Despite aggressive incentives worldwide, California is once again competing for big projects because we’re able to provide the best overall value,” Lemisch wrote in a November 2017 news release. “Films today can be shot just about anywhere, so it’s great to see so much production returning to the Golden State.”

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Stats

Disney’s production of “A Wrinkle in Time” included $85,393,000 in qualified expenditures, as well as the hiring of 2,800 extras and stand-ins. The producers hired 28 cast members and 350 workers for the crew, and filmed 80 days in the state of California, according to the project’s tax credit application.

“A Wrinkle in Time” also generated more than $110 million in local economic activity and contributed more than $40 million in wages to almost 4,000 local workers, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

“As someone who called this state and this industry home for many years, I am proud that California’s creative economy continues to be an engine of cultural and economic inspiration,” Charles H. Rivkin, chairman and CEO of MPAA, said at a screening of the film on March 3.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at dmcAfee@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan C. Tuck at rtuck@bloombergtax.com

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