Maryland State Seal

Maryland State Seal – Will the ‘Old Line’ State become the old location of House of Cards? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If anyone doubted the importance of the entertainment industry to providing creative jobs outside of Hollywood, witness the developing spat in Maryland over hit show ‘House of Cards.’

Although still subject to a decision in the state legislature, the outcome holds the potential to pull around $250 million from the local economy.


Tussling Over Tax Credits

The Netflix original series, which stars Kevin Spacey as a devious, dangerous politician climbing the DC ladder, has won over fans and critics alike but now faces a tense standoff with the state of Maryland, in which it is filmed. The disagreement centers on the level of tax credits that series production company Media Rights Capital will receive for the third season, which was due to start filming this spring but has now been delayed until summer to see what the state decides to do.

It boils down to the producers seeking $18.5 million, while the state is only willing to increase its ‘House of Cards’ allocation of the Maryland Film Production Employment Act to $15 million. Following a series of political and legal maneuvers that wouldn’t be out of place in the show itself, state representatives dug their heels in and threatened Media Rights Capital

Beneath all of this are the hundreds of creative jobs that are endangered by the possibility that Kevin Spacey and co. leave the state.


National Series, Local Jobs

For a show with national (and international, sort of) reach, the local stakes are high for creative industry workers in Maryland.

Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg

Lights! Camera! Action? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are reportedly 600 jobs and around $250 million in revenue on the line should Media Rights Capital take its valuable title to a new location, meaning that the state legislature is playing a risky game of financial cat and mouse with the production company. Of course Maryland also contains many of the specific spot locations that add value  to the series, but this is what these folks do for a living and it’s not beyond their abilities to recreate the set-up in another state.

Then there’s the example of New York City, which iconic locations like Maryland are clearly chasing after years of the city putting  entertainment  high on its list of industries to court to drive revenue growth. While tax incentives are an excellent way to woo potential producers into filming in your state, this case shows that they also become an expectation. Though credits can be easily withdrawn, so  can the decision to remain in any particular location, and for a hit series there are plenty of new suitors lining up to take that business.

Underlining all of this is the great ability of Hollywood to reach beyond state lines and pour revenue into areas around the country, making new creative jobs available and offering less experienced workers the chance to show off their talent in their own backyard.

Whenever decisions over production support, intellectual property, or any other issues that affect the entertainment industry are taken by legislators, it’s crucial to remember that these workers are the ones who bear the brunt, not the big name stars they work so hard to support.


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