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Arizona lawmaker tries to revive state filmmaking industry

PHOENIX — Budget cuts shut down Arizona’s Office of Film and Media a few years ago but a northern Arizona lawmaker and others are trying to turn the lights back on.

Arizona is not among the 48 states that have film offices or the 40 states that offer tax incentives to filmmakers and there hasn’t been a blockbuster filmed in Arizona for years.

“When we lost the film office (in 2009), filmmaking in this state dropped by 70 percent,” said Randy Murray, with Randy Murray Productions in Phoenix. He supports Arizona Sen. Carlyle Begay, who is trying to bring back the film office with Senate Bill 1098.

Cost is estimated at $600,000 per year, but it would pay off, said Murray.

“Great jobs, high-wage jobs and it would fill hotels. The return could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Why would any taxpayer object to that when it only costs $600,000 to fire up the film office once again,” he said.

Murray pointed out the “3:10 to Yuma” remake was shot mainly in New Mexico. The 1957 original was shot in Arizona. Producers of last year’s “The Lone Ranger” did a few background shots in Monument Valley but finished up in New Mexico.

However, several movies have been filmed in part in the state in the past 30 years or so, including “Easy Rider” “Jerry Maguire” and portions of “Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Hulk,” “The Mummy” “Almost Famous” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”

Old Tucson Studios was the epicenter for Westerns starting in 1939, pumping out John Wayne classics, “Stagecoach,” “Rio Bravo” and “El Dorado.”

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