Philly and the film industry have a long history together. From the advent of sound in motion pictures, to the latest installment of the Rocky film canon, Creed II, Philly is no stranger to the movie business. So why doesn’t more work come to the City of Brotherly Love?
The short answer… money,
Movies are not cheap. A large motion picture project requires a lot of moving parts working tirelessly in a carefully coordinated manner in order for the project to successfully produce a solid picture. This means that studios, large and small, have to spend a great deal of money ensuring that all the bases are covered. So when it comes to saving some dollars, they’ll take any opportunity they can get.
For years, Philly offered some great tax incentives. This resulted in the , very short lived, Philly film boom. Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, more and more big budget projects were calling Philly home. With all the diverse settings surrounding the Greater Philadelphia area, why not? Need a dense urban setting? Check! Want farmland or open fields? Check! Are you looking for dense forest and wooded areas? We got you there too! Lets not forget that since it’s located in the Northeast, Philly also benefits from having four seasons to choose from. If Philly is so great, then why the drop in the number of projects filmed here?
Well, as the city stopped offering tax incentives, studios began looking elsewhere. And they didn’t have to go too far. Steelers Nation, Pittsburgh, not only rivals Philly on the gridiron, but with solid tax breaks, there’s no reason why anyone would really need to film here, unless the movie is set here. Even then, you don’t really need to come here. Just look at DC’s latest film, Shazam - the film about Captain Marvel (DC’s captain, not to be confused with Marvel’s Captain Marvel) – which is set in Philadelphia, but filmed in Toronto. Aside from aerial stock footage, Warner Bros. felt that no one would notice the difference between Philly and it’s Canadian counterpart. We notice, but we’re not offering any reason for them to come here, so big whoop.
But who cares? Why do we even want movies filmed here? They close down streets and often create (minor) nuisances in the city. The answer, again, comes down to money.
Simply put, Philly sees an economic boom whenever a big project comes to town.
In 2016, PA as a whole saw over 14,000 new jobs directly connected to the film and television industry, resulting in approximately $760 million in wages. Productions like Creed (I and II), Split, and Glass – just to name a few – contribute to the economic boom that movies bring to the area. From Michael B. Jordan’s membership at Sweat Fitness in Center City, to the carpenters, administrators, transportation, food, and even hotel and hospitality; the economic reach of the movie business can be felt throughout the city. Heck, even City Hall gets a cut. We all know the PPA goes nuts with all the trucks and parking violations they can benefit from.
It looks like it’s pretty clear… We need to bring film to Philly, but how?
Mayor Kenny, why don’t we start with tax incentives and open the floor for discussions about a film studio? If you’re interested, we know a guy who may have an idea or two about that.