Nevada Lawmakers, Sony Want to Build Las Vegas Film Studios

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Posted on: May 11, 2023, 09:43h. 

Last updated on: May 11, 2023, 09:53h.

In an effort to lure more Hollywood production to Nevada, state legislators proposed a massive expansion of the state’s film tax credits in Thursday’s session. And they already have a customer waiting.

If Senate Bill 496 passes, Sony Pictures is prepared to commit up to $1 billion in production spending in the state over a decade, the film studio told the Nevada Independent, which broke the news. That includes possibly building not one but two major motion pictures studios — the first of their kind in Nevada.

The Las Vegas Media Campus, proposed for land owned by UNLV in southwest Las Vegas, is one of two studios Sony Pictures said it is prepared to build and use in Las Vegas if a new film tax expansion is passed. (Image: Birtcher Development)

SB 496 — the Nevada Film Studio Infrastructure Act — proposes up to $190 million in annual, transferable tax credits for film and TV production over more than two decades, far exceeding the state’s past use of transferable tax credits. Though these credits could cost the state $2 billion,  the bill’s supporters argue, they could earn it as much as $55 billion in revenue over the next 20 years.

Cinema City?

One studio, the Las Vegas Media Campus, would be located on land owned by UNLV near Interstate 215 and Durango Drive. The project is expected to cost $800 million, half of which will be contributed by California-based Birtcher Development. (In January, UNLV approved a deal to lease the land to Birtcher for 100 years.)

Summerlin Production Studios would be located in the master-planned community northwest of the Strip, where the Howard Hughes Corp., which owns Summerlin, is expected to take the lead with Sony.

A total of $175 million of the transferable credits would be available for production companies that work at the two proposed studios.

Introduced by state Sen. Roberta Lange (D-Las Vegas), SB 496 has bipartisan support, with GOP senators Scott Hammond and Heidi Seevers Gansert, and Democratic Assemblyman Cameron Miller, signing on as sponsors.

The bill does not mention Sony Pictures by name. However, the owner of Columbia Tri-Star issued a statement to the Independent indicating its desire to be involved.

“Sony Pictures supports expanding film and television production in the state of Nevada,” the statement read. “Working with the Howard Hughes Corporation and Birtcher Development and pending the passage of legislation guaranteeing a competitive Nevada production incentive, SPE is prepared to commit up to $1 billion in production spend in Southern Nevada over the next 10 years.”

State of Movies

According to the Nevada Film Office, a part of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, 370 film and TV productions shot in Nevada in 2022, generating $72 million in revenue for the state. This was down from the 429 productions generating $77.5 million in 2021. The most ever generated was $95.6 million from 500 projects in 2011.

These amounts pale in comparison with film revenue generated for California, headquarters of most of the world’s major studios. However, it is hoped that this bill would help Nevada compete with a state like Georgia, which successfully lured $4.4 billion in production away from Hollywood, in part, by issuing $1.3 billion in tax credits in 2022.

Lawmakers have less than a month left if the bill is to pass this legislative session.

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