Breaking News
More () »

Arizona the new Hollywood? Tax credit hopes to bring movies to the Grand Canyon State

Arizona's tax credits are back, and proponents are hoping it will lead to a boom in movie production.

PHOENIX — “We have been off the radar as far as the studios are concerned.," Randy Murray said as his crew packed up cameras and lenses.

"People have just been flying over to New Mexico and Georgia where they have incentives," he said. 

Murray has run his own production company in Phoenix for years. Now he's shooting a promotional campaign in south Phoenix. 

His crew is local, though he works on projects nationwide. And for the last ten years, he's watched Arizona get passed over by Hollywood.

“It's ridiculous," he said, "I have written TV series for Arizona... had to shoot them in Canada."

The reason, Murray says, is money. Other states, and yes, Canada, give millions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives to shoot movies there. It makes the production cheaper for studios, even if they have to take the production on a long road trip. 

But now Arizona's tax credits are back, and proponents are hoping it will lead to a boom in movie production.

The new Arizona tax credit program will give $125 million in credits. But that's not a guarantee that movies will be made here.

Arizona tried this tax credit program in the early 2000s and actually lost over $6 million. A report found most of the jobs that were created were only temporary. 

The new tax credit hopes to make the jobs permanent by requiring that studios hire locals.

The program requires studios to shoot on a local soundstage that's at least 10,000 square feet or bigger or at least do their post-production work, like editing, sound, and color correction, in Arizona. 

Two studios have already announced plans for major studio projects. One is planned for Scottsdale and another for Buckeye. Each would feature multiple stages and buildings and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. 

“Once they build them, they're going to want to fill them," Murray said. "It's gonna take a couple of years, but it's going to happen now.”

The hope is that the requirement for local soundstages and post-production will help create more permanent production jobs. 

Scottsdale Community College is starting a training program for production assistants, with the goal of training 2,000 of them in the next five years. The program should expand to other community colleges this year. 


In our “Boomtown” series, 12News takes a look at the Valley’s explosive growth over the past few decades, the consequences that came with it and a look at what it all means for our future as more than 1.5 million people are expected to move to the Valley by 2040.

Before You Leave, Check This Out