FilmLA, the not-for-profit film office that serves the greater Los Angeles area, has conducted an illuminating study on the preferred shooting locations of US feature films. To no one's great surprise, California leads the pack, but the remaining top five shooting locations give the presumed second—New York—a run for its money.
New York, which ranked second in the 2014 edition of this study, was knocked from the top five production locations.
The 2015 Feature Film Production Study analyzed a random sample of 109 films released theatrically last year, identifying where they were filmed and how much money was spent on production. As it turned out, 19 of these films were made in California (16 live-action and three animated), bringing in an estimated $720 million in total production spending in the state. This abundance is largely due to California's proximity to Hollywood and its attractive tax incentive program, which provides studios with an opportunity to recoup a percentage of production costs. Some popular films shot in California last year were Straight Outta Compton and Insidious: Chapter 3.
Los Angeles in particular was a premiere destination for productions in 2015: roughly 608 feature films shot in the greater LA area, up slightly from roughly 580 features the year before. The vast majority of these were independent films, suggesting that LA is a safe haven for low-budget fare.
In terms of project count, California’s top competitors were the UK (15 projects), Georgia and Louisiana (12 projects), and Canada (11 projects). New York, which ranked second in the 2014 edition of this study with 13 projects, was knocked from the top five production locations (seven projects).
Though fewer projects were produced in the UK, the country's total production budget spending exceeded that of California by 150%. From an economic standpoint, this number is more significant than the total project count, as one movie that spends $100 million has a bigger economic impact than 10 films with $5 million budgets. The UK's production tax incentive program is, in fact, more rewarding than California's—productions receive 20-25% of all qualifying local UK spend, above-the-line and below-the-line costs are covered (as well as back-end profit participation payments), and there is no annual cap.
Last year, major American films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jupiter Ascending, and Avengers: Age Of Ultron were shot in the UK.
Top photo credit: hollywood_DP / Shutterstock