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California-based 828 Productions will join Netflix and NBCUniversal and set up a new full-service film and production shop in New Mexico, the state’s governor’s office said Wednesday.
Over the next six years, 828 Productions plans to invest $75 million to build a 300,000-square-foot studio and 20-acre backlot in Las Cruces. It intends to shoot its first production in the studio before the end of the year and spend $350 million on productions over the next decade. (Recent films from 828 Productions include Helen’s Dead, Those Who Walk Away and The Fallout.)
Todd Lundbohm, founder and CEO of 828 Productions, said in a statement that moving headquarters was about “putting down roots.” He continued, “This is a town on the rise, with a wealth of opportunity just waiting to be tapped into. At 828, we’re passionate about story and film as an art form, but we’re equally passionate about creating a studio environment that inspires positivity behind the scenes as well.”
New Mexico will pledge $3 million to the project from the Local Economic Development Act job creation fund, intended to incentivize businesses to move to the state, if the company meets its target of creating at least 100 full-time jobs.
Pending city council approval and finalization of a project participation agreement, Las Cruces will also devote an additional $897,000 in job creation funds. There could be another $2.8 million set aside by the city for cinematic infrastructure, bringing the total in potential state and city funds for the project to $6.7 million.
828 Productions started ramping up its production efforts in New Mexico in May, purchasing a 7,500- square-foot office building in downtown Las Cruces for jobs training, postproduction and visual effects work. It’s finalizing a deal to buy an additional 35 acres of land in the same area, which already has existing structures that will provide soundstage and set construction space.
With jobs creation investment from New Mexico, 828 Productions is set to become the state’s third film partner after Netflix and NBCUniversal — both of which have committed big bucks to produce content in the state over the next 10 years. The partnership model was a key provision of legislation signed by the governor in 2019 revising New Mexico’s film and TV tax credit program to catalyze permanent investment from Hollywood.
New Mexico’s robust tax incentives of 25 to 35 percent to shoot in the state has attracted a wealth of productions in recent years. Lawmakers more than doubled the annual cap on the program in 2019 from $50 million to $110 million. Since then, the state has continued to see more money from the entertainment industry: spending more than doubled from $292 million in 2020 to $626.5 million in 2021. New Mexico saw a record $855 million in direct spending from Hollywood in fiscal year 2022 that ended June 30.
Las Cruces is included in New Mexico’s “uplift” incentive area, which provides productions an extra 5 percent tax credit bump for shooting in rural locations. The incentive resulted in rural communities seeing nearly $50 million in direct spending in 2022, a six-fold increase from the previous year, according to the governor’s office.
“New Mexico is seeing a record number of productions from the film and television industry and all-time high spending, and it’s no accident,” said state Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement. “Not only are we are investing in studios like 828 Productions, we are expanding industry workforce training with a new film school in Albuquerque and Las Cruces — and it is paying off.”
New Mexico may see more competition from neighboring states for productions in the near future. In July, Arizona increased the cap on its tax credit program to $75 million, with another $50 million bump by 2025. Lawmakers cited the desire to compete with New Mexico for Hollywood dollars.
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