Tax Incentives Lure Revived 'Penny Dreadful' to California

Courtesy Photo; Getty Images
John Logan

The Showtime horror series, receiving $24.7 million in tax credits, is expected to spend $99 million in qualified expenditures.

To take advantage of California’s Film and TV Tax Credit Program 2.0, filming on the fourth season of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful is moving from Dublin to Los Angeles. It becomes the 16th TV series to move to California to take advantage of the tax incentives, the California Film Commission announced Monday.

With John Logan, the series creator, and Michael Aguilar serving as showrunners, the new season, titled Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, will feature different cast and characters and is set in 1938 L.A. It is expected to employ more than 350 castmembers and 150 crew. The show, which has been approved conditionally for $24.7 million in tax credits, is expected to spend an estimated $99 million in below-the-line wages and other qualified expenditures. (Overall spending will be much higher since it will also include above-the-line salaries and other expenditures that don’t qualify for tax credits.)

With the addition of Penny Dreadful, California’s expanded Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0 has attracted relocating TV series from seven U.S. states plus Canada and the Republic of Ireland, which are on track to generate nearly $1 billion in qualified in-state spending, including $553 million in wages to below-the-line workers, for their current seasons.

“Choosing where to set up production for the next chapter of the Penny Dreadful fable was one of the most important decisions we had to make, and there were many options we looked into,” Jana Winograde, president of entertainment, Showtime Networks, said. “Shooting in California obviously has many attractions, but without the state’s film and TV tax credit it could become cost prohibitive. We couldn’t be happier about how things worked out or the benefits it will bring to the job market.” 

“With its established track record and top-of-the-line production value, a relocating series like Penny Dreadful brings long-term jobs and significant in-state spending,” California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch said. “Global competition and increasing reliance on VFX make it possible for projects set almost anywhere to film wherever they get the best value. We’re delighted that California crews and service providers will benefit directly from this project, which is set in our own backyard.” 

Due to the tax credit program’s success with long-term TV projects, the latest TV application period (held Feb. 4-8) was open only to relocating series and recurring series already accepted into Program 2.0. In addition to the relocating Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series, the tax credit program currently has 29 recurring TV series in various stages of production. To date, a total of 74 television projects, including new TV series, relocating TV series, pilots, MOWs and miniseries have been accepted into Program 2.0 since it was launched in July 2015. 

The next application period for TV projects (the first for fiscal year-five of Program 2.0) is scheduled for May 20-24. The next round of feature film projects (the third and final round for fiscal year four of Program 2.0) is scheduled to be announced April 1.