State awards millions in tax credits for job-producing films

Greater Cincinnati’s booming feature film and television industries recently received another big win in the form of millions of dollars in tax credits aimed at luring media projects – and the jobs they create – to the region.

That includes what some fans and movie buffs theorize is the first installment of DC Comics’ new Superman universe. (Union Terminal as the Hall of Justice?)

Last week, the Ohio Department of Development awarded more than $44 million in tax credits for 23 film projects set to take place across the state. Nine of those TV and movie productions are being shot at least partly in Cincinnati, Dayton and the more general region of Southwest Ohio.

The awards came through the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit Program, which provides a refundable tax credit of 30% on production cast and crew wages and other in-state spending. Eligible production types are feature-length films, documentaries, pre-Broadway productions, miniseries, video games and music videos.

Local projects range from smaller TV shows to a $363 million blockbuster titled “Genesis,” which will have locations in both Cleveland and Cincinnati. The movie – speculated by various reports as James Gunn’s first since taking over creative control of the DC cinematic universe – received more than $11 million in tax credits based on an estimated $39.7 million in total eligible production expenses.

Beyond its considerable budget, “Genesis” will create about 122 jobs, per the state of Ohio.

In total, projects with connections to Greater Cincinnati will have received about $32.7 million in state tax credits compared to estimates of nearly $109 million in eligible expenses. Those projects – which have a combined total budget of more than $448 million – will create about 360 jobs overall.

That doesn’t include projects like WWE wrestling events that will take place in various locations across the state over the course of the year.

A full breakdown of awards is below.

“These projects celebrate and showcase our diverse landscapes, generate jobs, stimulate local businesses, and create a lasting legacy for the arts in Ohio,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development

Bringing Hollywood to the heartland

The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit was created in 2009 to encourage and develop a strong film industry in Ohio.

Applications are reviewed and awarded in two rounds each year. The program provides $50 million annually, evenly divided between the two rounds, plus any rollover amounts from the preceding period and any recaptured funds from previous productions.

There’s $5 million withheld every year from the full amount specifically for Broadway and theatrical productions. Project awards first go to television series or miniseries, then to all others, based on the positive economic impact in Ohio and the development of workforce in the motion picture or theatrical production industries.

“Investing in these productions fuels the vibrant creativity that’s alive in Ohio’s communities and serves as a powerful catalyst for economic growth,” Mihalik said.

Kristen Schlotman

For this round of funding, awarded projects total nearly $503 million in production expenses, $146.7 million in total eligible production expenses, and are expected to create 530 full-time jobs. 

Development received 27 applications for the fiscal year 2024 January round, requesting nearly $60 million in tax credits.

“The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit Program has been an instrumental tool in helping Film Cincinnati anchor productions to our region,” said Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati.

The nonprofit champions the art of cinema in the Greater Cincinnati region through advocacy, promotional events in support of those involved in film production.

Schlotman credited the tax credit with making Greater Cincinnati and the entire state a more attractive destination for filmmakers.

Lights, camera, action

The first major film to take advantage of the program in Southwest Ohio was the 2011 political thriller “The Ides of March,” starring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling. The product originally was going to be shot fully in Detroit.

Other films brought to the region since then include a mixture of big-budget flicks, indie house films and some made-for-TV less-than-classics. Examples are “Miles Ahead,” “Carol,” The Public,” “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” “Dark Waters,” “The Old Man and the Gun” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” Among the most recent was “Bones and All” starring Timothée Chalamet.

Other noteworthy actors taking part in these locally made films were Cate Blanchett, Don Cheadle, Bruce Willis, Mark Ruffalo, Zac Efron and Rooney Mara.

Schlotman expressed gratitude to the Ohio’s Department of Development in awarding these credits. She voiced excitement that the tax credit value will increase later this year to $75 million.

“We expect even more productions to come to southwest Ohio, creating more jobs and opportunities for Ohioans,” she said.

Full list of Round 1 projects and tax credit awards

TV series

  • An Interesting Life Season 2, Southwest Ohio – $432,300
  • WWE 2024, Ohio – $1,675,986
  • Nightmare Transmission Season 2, Ashland/Columbus – $265,247.40
  • Heartland Horror Chronicles Season 1, Crestline – $129,444
  • Christmas on Main, Ashland – $148,842
  • Kings of Vegas, Cleveland – $105,878.25

Feature films

  • Genesis, Cleveland/Cincinnati – $11,091,686.70
  • Superthief, Northeast Ohio – $5,296,260.30
  • Alarum, Cincinnati – $5,863,392.30
  • Epiphany, Cincinnati – $6,052,988.40
  • Stained Glass, Southwest Ohio – $3,026,255
  • The Marshal, Southwest Ohio – $2,380,988.40
  • Nutcracker’s Mustache, Dayton/Cincinnati – $2,008,106.70
  • The Last of the Big-time Promoters – Southwest Ohio, $985,500
  • Never Quit, The Todd Crandell Story, Toledo – $1,256,153.40
  • Harbor Master, Northeast Ohio – $1,113,364.80
  • Down to the Felt, Columbus – $385,853.70
  • Oscar’s Options, Cincinnati – $823,269.60
  • Slay, Columbus – $519,603.60
  • The Forgotten Chord, Columbus – $115,651.50
  • Heavenly Wickedness, Ashtabula – $110,625
  • Cannonballer, Summit County – $148,371
  • Aimless, Columbus – $93,313.50

Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit

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