Along the desert outskirts of Albuquerque sits a collection of cavernous buildings the size of airplane hangars, some more than six stories tall. Built for $75 million, with another $15 million expansion in the works, they house make-believe worlds -- city streets, basketball arenas, stately mansions or even mountainsides (complete with trucked-in snow). Anything a movie producer might desire.
In short, Albuquerque Studios, which opened in June, is the crown jewel in New Mexico's efforts to attract big money from the film industry. New Mexico's top politicians and film experts lured the facilities with what the developer called "visionary" incentives, including tax rebates, no-interest loans and training credits. Now, the studios will play a key role in the state's strategy for making sure the industry keeps coming back to New Mexico for a long time.
New Mexico was the second state (after Oklahoma) to pursue film projects with tax breaks, and its efforts have paid off handsomely -- in both money and prestige. The film industry spent $476 million in the state last year, compared with $1.5 million in 2001, the year before it enacted film tax incentives.
Come Sunday (Feb. 24), New Mexico may even be able to brag about an Oscar or two. Four films nominated for Academy Awards this year were shot in the Land of Enchantment: "No Country for Old Men," "3:10 to Yuma," "In the Valley of Elah" and "Transformers."
The new movie studios, and others like them across the country, are the latest carrot some states are offering to snare movie business from other states offering increasingly more generous tax breaks.
Read the full report Star-Struck States Sweeten Film Incentives on Stateline.org's Web site.