Puerto Rico Expands Film Tax Credits for Larger Hollywood Presence

Richard Verrier (Los Angeles Times) focuses on Puerto Rico’s claim to be a “paradise of locations” for filmmaking and Governor Luis G. Fortuño attempts to offer incentives aimed to make the island competitive with preferred locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, among others. He explains that Puerto Rico had never been among the top choices in the Caribbean archipelago because of the small pool of money allocated for its tax-credit program, adding that this is now about to change. On a personal note, I certainly hope that this interest in offering the island’s “lush mountains, tropical rain forest, and sugar-white beaches” as a backdrop for the film industry influences the government’s stance on environmental protection. Here are excerpts with a link below:

Last week, Puerto Rico Gov. Luis G. Fortuño signed into law a new package of film incentives aimed at making his commonwealth competitive with some of the top production hubs in the U.S. The new law broadens the existing 40% production tax credit to include TV programs and documentaries, and for the first time allows producers to claim a 20% tax credit for hiring non-residents, including salaries of actors. Additionally, the new law lifts the annual cap in tax credits to a maximum of $350 million from a paltry $15 million. It also provides a 25% tax credit toward the development and expansion of studios, post-production houses and other service companies that are critical to building a local film industry.

[. . .] Puerto Rico’s new legislation comes after a recent announcement by neighboring Dominican Republican to introduce a 25% film tax credit. And, it comes at a time when several U.S. states, notably New Mexico and Michigan, have announced plans to significantly scale back their film incentives to balance their budgets. “We look at the film industry as an engine of economic development,’’ said José Ramón Pérez-Riera, Puerto Rico’s secretary of economic development and commerce, which oversees the film program.  “With this new law, I think we can compete favorably with any jurisdiction.”

Pérez-Riera said the timing of the new tax-credit law, which has been in the works for six months, was purely coincidental with rollbacks in some states.

“I can’t say we’re doing this because other states are cutting back, but the timing works quite nicely for us,’’ he said. “As other states are cutting back we’re stepping up so we can capture a substantial portion of the market for some of these high-budget films.”

[. . .] Puerto Rico has managed to lure dozens of productions over the last decade thanks to its diverse and tropical terrain. The commonwealth has stood in for Cuba in the USA Network TV show “Royal Pains”; Bolivia in the Warner Bros. action movie “The Losers”; Brazil in the upcoming Universal Pictures’ sequel “Fast Five”; and even Kuwait and Iraq in “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” the independent film starring George Clooney.

And the government would like to see Hollywood crews hang around for a bit longer to fuel the local economy. For example, Walt Disney Pictures’ “Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides” shot only a few days in Ft. San Cristobal in Old San Juan and in Palominito, an isolated island on the east coast of Puerto Rico. “We wanted to bring the entire production here,” Pérez-Riera said, “but we were competing with Hawaii.”

[I would like to add to the list of films shot in Puerto Rico, Amistad, Assassins, Bananas, Che! (with Omar Sharif as Che Guevara), Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Rum Diary, and Under Suspicion, among others.]

For original article, see http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/03/on-location-puerto-rico-expands-film-tax-credits-in-bid-for-larger-hollywood-role.html?cid=6a00d8341c630a53ef014e869660fd970d

Shown here: Puerto Rico’s Palominito Island, which recently hosted the “Pirates of the Caribbean” crew.

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