The Economic Development Authority approved $3.2 million of tax credits under the television and film tax credit program at its Tuesday board meeting — an increasingly popular incentive used for luring media production to the state.
Big Indie Chemical Hearts Inc. received the largest award – $2.6 million – for its production of the drama romance film “Chemical Hearts,” which will be distributed by Amazon Studios in 2020. Filming took place in June and July in Harrison Township. The production in the state cost $10.7 million, according to the EDA board agenda.
Another $453,374 was approved for SPR Media LLC’s production of “A Nice Girl Like You” – a romantic comedy that explores the love-life of an Oxford University graduate, starring American actress and singer Lucy Hale and American actress and singer – and a star in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black – Jackie Cruz, according to the website IMDb.com.
Filming ran from December 2018 to January 2019 and was done up and down the state in Atlantic City, Jersey City, Glen Ridge, Rutherford and Secaucus. Production in New Jersey cost nearly $2 million, according to EDA documents.
The EDA also approved a $160,296 tax break to Arete Productions LLC for its production of “Lucky Jack” and $40,316 to Mida Films Inc. for its production of “The Unborn.”
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the state’s film tax credit program into law last year. His predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, allowed a smaller version of the incentive to expire in 2011 before it fizzled out for good in 2015.
“The payback is immediate,” Murphy said at an Oct. 1 event at Rowan University. “This comes to town, the circus comes to town … and you get immediate payback.”
The program provides a 30 percent tax break for filming in the state, or 35 percent for filming in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer or Salem counties.
Digital media companies can win tax breaks of up to 20 percent of their expenses, or 25 percent if they film in South Jersey.
Businesses have to spend at least 60 percent of their expenses on goods and services from state businesses. They can also obtain a 2 percent diversity hiring bonus.
Because of the program’s popularity among film, television and other media producers, demand for the tax credits is outstripping supply. The film and television tax credit program is capped at $75 million a year, while the digital media portion is capped at $10 million a year.
Lawmakers are proposing to extend the program for another five years so that it expires in 2029 rather than 2024, and to raise the cap from $75 million to $100 million a year.