Hawaiʻi Film and TV's Hot Streak

Mar 24, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii may not often appear as itself in movies but as a shooting location, it has been on a hot streak. PBN editor-in-chief A. Kam Napier has more.


    
Hawaii’s film and television industry has been posting strong numbers. Production expenditures in the Islands totaled about $250 million in both 2015 and 2016. Already, production companies have spent just over $117 million in 2017. To put a human face on that, a $250 million production yield creates about 2,500 jobs.

 

The TV series Hawaii Five-O remains a big part of that, with annual expenditures of $100 million, but it isn’t the only production in town. A TV show called “Inhumans” from Disney/ABC and Marvel Television, is settling in on Oahu, for example. Right now, in theatres, you can see Hawaii in “Kong: Skull Island.”

 

Industry leaders say Hawaii’s tax credit has been essential to luring productions to Islands. This tax credit is set to expire in 2019, and lawmakers have introduced a bill to extend that to 2024. The tax credit has not been without controversy. Late last year, the state auditor criticized the implementation of the credit, and claimed the economic impact of the tax was overstated. In response, the Hawaii Film Office has been tightening its procedures. The challenge is that Hawaii competes as a location with other US states, and other countries, all of whom offer tax credits of their own.

 

There are limits on the credit. Not all expenses apply and there’s a cap of $15 million per production. Even with the credit in place, Hawaii has been netting from $27 to $28 million in taxes from film production in each of the past two years.