Leonardo DiCaprio and Taika Waititi's 'Akira' Tops Latest List of California Tax Credit Recipients

Taika Waititi and Leonardo DiCaprio_Split - Getty - H 2019
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW; Noam Galai/FilmMagic

The Warner Bros. project is one of 18 films that collectively are expected to generate $408 million in below-the-line wages and payments to in-state vendors.

Akira, the adaptation of Katsuhiro Otoma’s manga series that Leonardo DiCaprio is producing though his Appian Way along with Andrew Lazar and that Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi is set to direct, is among 18 film projects that have just been selected to receive tax credits under the California Film Commission’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0.

With the assistance of an $18.5 million tax credit, the Warner Bros. release, which is not yet cast, is scheduled to shoot entirely in California over the course of  71 filming days, even though the futuristic film is set in Tokyo in the year 2060. The big-budget film is expected to generate $92 million in qualified spending, the Film Commission said — that includes $43 million in wages to 200 below-the-line crew members and more than 5,000 extras and stand-ins.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to shoot Akira in California,” said Ravi Mehta, Warner Bros. Pictures evp physical production and finance. “The availability of top-notch crew members, plus the wide variety of location choices and predictable weather, are second to none.”

Akira will become the 13th big-budget feature to film in California under Program 2.0, which has specifically targeted such films for the boost they provide the economy. Others have included Captain MarvelBumblebeeA Wrinkle in Time and the upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Space Jam 2.

“Big-budget film projects bring big employment and big spending, and we’re able to bring them home to California more cost-effectively than other locales that don’t have all that we have to offer,” California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch said in announcing the latest round of recipients.

The 18 projects announced today included eight indie films and 10 studio features, all of which collectively are expected to generate $408 million in qualified expenditures, which includes below-the-line wages and payments to in-state vendors. While above-the-line salaries and other production expenditures will also have an impact, they are not part of the calculation for the tax credits.

Based on data provided with each tax credit application, the Film Commission said, the projects announced today will employ an estimated 2,575 crew, 812 cast, and 29,000 extras/stand-ins (the latter measured in “man-days”) over a combined 740 shoot days in California. 

Ten of the 18 projects announced today plan to shoot outside the Los Angeles 30-Mile Zone. They are on track to spend 279 filming days in counties statewide. Topping the list are Tucker Tooley Productions’ Flying Horse, with 50 filming days in Sacramento, and the teen drama based on Jandy Nelson’s novel The Sky is Everywhere, with 40 filming days in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Marin, and Alameda counties. For the projects announced today, California will double for locales ranging from post-apocalyptic Tokyo to small-town Texas.  

"This latest round of tax credits demonstrates how Program 2.0 enables indie and studio projects to remain in California and tap our unmatched talent and infrastructure,” Lemisch added.  “The filmmakers represent diverse projects that will shoot in locations across the state, from Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe to San Diego county.” 

To date, 37 feature film projects accepted into Program 2.0 have filmed outside the Zone.

A total of 55 film projects applied for tax credits during the February 25–March 1 application period. Today’s list is subject to change if applicants withdraw from the program, in which case their reservation of tax credits is reassigned to one or more other projects currently on the waitlist. The next application period for feature film tax credits will be June 17-21.