Cinema tourism driving local economies across the USA; states mindful of the windfall, says Lohita Sujith

Lohita Sujith
Director, Corporate Communications, MPAA

There was an intense rivalry among states in the USA to attract cinema tourism into their territory. Such a conviction was backed by the fact that cinema tourism was playing a pivotal role in driving local economies, Lohita Sujith, Director, Corporate Communications, MPAA said. Excerpts from her presentation at the recently held Cinemascapes 2018 in Mumbai:

Providing a perspective on cinema-making in the USA, Hollywood industry to be specific, she suggested that the ecosystem for cinema-making implied support for the local industry. She noted that the support was not restricted to only the movie industry, but incorporated art and music verticals too. She shared that apart from the usually well-known destinations like Los Angeles and New York, an intense competition existed among the US states to garner a large chunk of cinema shoots. She added that the Indian market was slowly but surely seeing a similar trend – which was a matter of pride and joy for Indians. 

She applauded Georgia, an American state, for their relentless pursuit of inventing their incentive structure making it an attractive draw among cinema makers. “They never stopped upgrading their post-production setups,” she detailed, suggesting that the state had put in place the requisite infrastructure and skill to replicate any destination in the world. Georgia also handed out more film tax credit than any other country or state in the world, barring the UK, her presentation informed. Cinema industry was supporting over 92,000 jobs, providing over 4.6 billion USD for wages in the state. More so, over 300 new businesses were supporting the industry. Notable movies such as Black Panther, The Walking Dead and Hunger Games, among others had been shot in the south-eastern coastal state.  Lohita Sujith also shared that cinema and TV productions generated a massive 9.5 billion USD worth of revenue. Important to note that the figures represent the FY2018. 

 Highlighting yet another success story, one that of British Columbia, Lohita Sujith talked about how the Canadian Province took advantage of their strategic location, being located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, to turn the tide in their favour. They created a favourable incentive structure, pitching for business by showcasing their available workforce, she elucidated, adding that Canada’s westernmost province had attracted every major studio for shooting their movies in their territory. In the most recent past, Deadpool 2 was shot there, generating close to ten million USD worth of revenue for the local community. 

Her presentation included a video on Iceland and its numerous offerings for cinema-makers. It detailed how the nation had put in place favourable measures to drive film shoots.

Sharing further thoughts on the issue of nurturing an ecosystem, creating an incentive structure was the first step towards building it for cinema tourism space, she said. She insisted that it was an “opportunity to introduce communities to a completely new medium”, also creating a possibility of developing a post-production industry in the long run.

While productions and tourism were discussed at length at the forum in the past years, there was a need for building an ecosystem for filmmaking – which needed more attention from those who had a stake in the industry, Lohita Sujith reasoned. She added that the audience at Cinemascapes 2018 represented diverse spectrums, such as governments, state tourism boards, producers, copywriters and such, which was conducive for such an attempt in that direction.

She defined film tourism not only as a means to showcase destinations to the prospective audience but a way of inculcating “inorganic means” to generate revenue at the local levels. She informed that MPAA represented six Hollywood studios and the organisation was “serious” about its revenue generating capacity.

She implored the film-making community to take stock of the opportunities provided by the state governments to facilitate shootings, expressing happiness over Gujarat’s presence at the event.

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