News & Press

Marty Finley, Reporter

August 03, 2016 | Louisville Business First

Nicolas Cage is all the rage: How his new film could boost Louisville's economy

When Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage popped up in several stores in Clarksville and the Louisville Zoo, he caused a bit of a stir on social media, appearing in numerous photos with surprised fans.

But Cage's appearance also might shake up the local economy a little as well.

Cage ("Raising Arizona," "National Treasure") is the star of the upcoming thriller "Mom and Dad," co-starring Selma Blair ("Legally Blonde," "Hellboy.")

IMDB describes the film this way: "A teenage girl and her little brother must survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own kids." It is slated for a 2017 release.

The film crew mobilized in Louisville last week. The production company, Mom & Dad Productions LLC, said in its permit application with Louisville Metro Government that production could continue until Sept. 1. The permit is required of film crews who want to shoot in Louisville.

Production work, which could include 85 to 300 crew members, already has been spotted at St. Xavier High School. The permit application also lists DeSales High School and a residence in the 500 block of Denmark Street as filming locations.

As for the potential economic impact, the movie could bring a nice little infusion into the local economy, said Jay Hall, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism.

Hall said he could not discuss the company's budget but that it will be a "decent-sized film" that will impact numerous industries. For instance, he said, the crew will spend money at hotels and restaurants and will shop at stores for equipment and tools needed to construct sets, buy cosmetics and clothing for the makeup and wardrobe departments and possibly shop at stores for props and set pieces to enhance the movie.

Hall said Kentucky is starting to see more interest from movie studios since the Kentucky General Assembly expanded the state's film tax credit program last year. Legislators upped the state's refundable tax credit to 30 percent of eligible production expenses from its previous 20 percent.

Eligible expenses could include set construction, property rental, wardrobe, photography, sound services, editing and expenses, according to a 2015 Lane Report article.

That Lane Report article said another 5 percent credit is offered to production companies that use Kentucky resident labor or film in “enhanced incentive counties.”

Production companies must spend at least $250,000 on films or television shows to be eligible for the credit.

"They go to the grocery store, they buy craft services … they feed the crew," Hall said. "Those are all expenses that can be eligible for incentives."

Hall said the expansion of the credit helps Kentucky be more competitive with other southern states, such as Georgia, which have enticing incentive deals. Georgia is where AMC's popular "Walking Dead" television show is filmed.

Not everyone was happy about the film credit expansion. The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy released this report last year, claiming the expansion was too generous, would not produce enough revenue to offset its cost and was based on exaggerated data, among other concerns.

Hall would not disclose how much of an incentive "Mom and Dad" could receive.

"It is performance-based," he said. "The more eligible costs, the higher their incentive will be."

Hall did say it is unlikely the film will have as big an impact on Louisville as a major film production would on a smaller town.

For example, "Above Suspicion," a 2017 thriller starring "Game of Thrones" standout Emilia Clarke and "Boardwalk Empire" veteran Jack Huston, filmed a large number of scenes in Harlan County and is expected to receive millions in tax credits from the state. Hall said it was one of the largest film productions Kentucky has ever seen.

"Above Suspicion" tells the true story of an FBI agent assigned to a small Kentucky town who was convicted of killing his lover and informant.

Stacey Yates, vice president of marketing and communications for the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the bureau does not track the economic impact of movie productions. But she said films can be a powerful branding tool for cities if the city is an iconic part of the film.

Yates said she is not familiar with the inner workings of Cage's new film, but she hopes Louisville has a prominent role.

Yates pointed to the Tom Hanks classic "Forrest Gump" as a tourist draw for Savannah, Ga. Guests still flock there years later to get a picture of the bench Hanks sat on in the movie, she said.