NC Deciding Again On Film Break Future - WSPA.com

NC Deciding Again On Film Break Future

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

From classics, such as “Dirty Dancing” to blockbusters, like “The Hunger Games” – North Carolina has had a starring role in the film industry, thanks to its tax credits to production companies.

“If we lose the incentive, we lose the film industry,” says filmmaker James Suttles from Brevard.

Suttles has shot and directed numerous projects across the state, and he wants to continue to work close to home, if he can afford to do so.

The state's 25 percent refund on expenses by production companies that film in the state is set to expire this year. The legislature must decide when it returns in May whether to extend the tax break, rewrite it or eliminate it.

In the past year, some 60 production companies were registered with the N.C. Film Office, spending more than $254 million and creating nearly 25,000 job opportunities, according to Gov. Pat McCrory’s office.

Even after the crews pack up and leave, some people are finding long-term benefits.

Tammy Hopkins is the co-creator of The Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tour, which continues to drive in money to the area.

“Fans want to come walk in the footsteps of their favorite characters, so they are actually going to here and visit,” Hopkins said.

But critics are unsure if the state is getting enough of a return on its money.

House Majority Whip Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, tells 7 On Your Side the state has paid out a quarter of billion since 2005 to production companies.

“We should concentrate that money on fixing our infrastructure, protecting our citizens and providing a world class education for our children,” Hager said.

Film boosters have organized to work to keep the credit. They say it generates thousands of jobs and local spending. Critics of the credit point out companies get refunds even beyond what they pay in taxes and say the jobs are temporary.

The refunds totaled $77 million in 2012. Nearly $34 million went to "The Hunger Games" and "Iron Man 3."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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