New state tax incentives lure big movie studio projects to Phoenix area

Jul 27, 2022, 4:25 AM

(Acacia Filmed Entertainment Rendering) (Acacia Filmed Entertainment Rendering) (Acacia Filmed Entertainment Rendering) (Acacia Filmed Entertainment Rendering) Matthew George (Acacia Filmed Entertainment)

PHOENIX – Two multimillion-dollar movie studio projects are moving ahead in metro Phoenix after Arizona lawmakers authorized lucrative incentives to create a film industry in the state.

The Legislature passed the Arizona Motion Picture Production Program late in the last session, which ended in June, and Gov. Doug Ducey let bill become law without signing it.

The program offers tax credits to cover a percentage of costs up to $25 million annually to companies that make a movie at a qualified production facility in Arizona.

The cap starts at $75 million next year, rises to $100 million in 2024 and goes to $125 million in 2025 and beyond. The program was authorized through 2043.

Randy Murray, who is with the Arizona Film and Digital Media Coalition, and others helped state Sen. David Gowan craft the legislation.

“It is designed to build an industry here in Arizona,” Murray, owner of Phoenix’s Randy Murray Productions, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“It’s not designed to focus on so much on bringing short-term jobs to Arizona. It’s focused on creating permanent jobs in Arizona.”

Acacia Filmed Entertainment announced plans Monday to build its Arizona Studio Complex in Scottsdale to take advantage of the incentives.

Plans for the project call for a 624,000-square-feet campus with 14 soundstages built in two phases on 70 acres of land.

Acacia is led by Matthew George, co-president of Castle Rock Entertainment, Rob Reiner’s production company.

“With strong consumer demand for quality original content, the need for studio soundstage space has increased and global studios are looking for financial incentives to support this ever-growing production pressure,” George, whose production credits include “Wind River” and “LBJ,” said in a press release.

“Acacia’s Arizona Studio Complex will deliver a world-class facility tailored to the highly specialized needs of top filmmakers coupled with competitive tax breaks to ease the burden of big budget productions.”

Another project, the Desert Studios Complex, is aiming break ground in Buckeye early next year, according to Variety, with 16 sound stages in the first phase and the potential to expand to 64.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Brandon King contributed to this report.

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New state tax incentives lure big movie studio projects to Phoenix area