Maryland Politician Threatens to Seize 'House of Cards' Property If Show Stops Filming in State
House of Cards' production company Media Rights Capital is in the middle of a standoff with Maryland state officials over tax credits, and a local Democrat has threatened to seize the show's property if the production leaves the state.
MRC sent a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley stating that it was postponing filming on the third season of the Netflix series until it could be assured that sufficient funding was in place to cover the tax credits for which the show would qualify. If not, MRC wrote, it would break down its film stage and move to another state.
The previous two seasons of House of Cards have been filmed in Maryland. Netflix announced that the show had been renewed for a third season on Feb. 4. A pending bill is set to increase the funds available for production tax credits to $18.5 million from $7.5 million for the budget year that starts July 2014. The state Senate has approved the increase but the House of Delegates has yet to approve the measure. A committee hearing is set for April 2.
But ahead of the hearing, the House has adopted budget language requiring the state to seize the show's property if it stops filming in Maryland.
The amendment was proposed by Montgomery County Democrat William Frick, who represents a part of Maryland located right outside Washington, D.C. The provision orders the state to use the right of eminent domain to buy or condemn the property of any film production company that has claimed $10 million or more in credits against the state income tax. The provision would only apply to the Netflix series, which has gotten the bulk of state credits, according to reports by Bloomberg, The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.
Frick said he thought MRC's letter "went a little too far," according to The Sun, and compared the Netflix series decamping to the Baltimore Colts leaving for Indianapolis in the middle of the night in March 1984. In order for Frick's amendment to take effect, the House language would have to be accepted in a conference with the Senate, according to reports.
"I literally thought: What is an appropriate Frank Underwood response to a threat like this?" Frick said, referring to Kevin Spacey's House of Cards character, according to the Post. "Eminent domain really struck me as the most dramatic response."
Meanwhile, the team behind House of Cards hasn't stopped its efforts to get the state to approve the tax credits, with even Spacey trying to charm Annapolis power brokers.
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The star spoke to lawmakers at a $10,000 party at the Red Red Wine Bar in Annapolis, according to reports.
"I've heard a lot about how tonight I was going to play the role of the whip," Spacey told the crowd at the March 21 event, Bloomberg reported.
MRC has even hired a lobbyist, Gerard Evans, to advocate for production incentives, Bloomberg added.
MRC would not comment on the eminent domain issue but provided The Hollywood Reporter with the following statement: "We have had wonderful experiences filming the past two seasons of House of Cards in the state of Maryland and love shooting here."
Netflix referred inquires to MRC.
Spacey's reps declined to comment.