BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, NewsOK
Published: August 28 2011
It appears the NBA lockout has cost Oklahoma City a date with Hollywood
The bulk of filming for the feature-length Warner Bros. film that Thunder forward Kevin Durant has agreed to star in will be filmed in Baton Rouge, La. rather than OKC.
It’s likely that the final few days of filming will be shot in Oklahoma City. But by losing the majority of the project, both Oklahoma City’s economy and its growing status as a bustling city on the rise has been dealt a blow.
The entire project couldn’t be shot in Oklahoma City because of a snag with state incentives for film production. The state of Oklahoma offers a 37 percent rebate for companies filming in the state, but the Oklahoma Film & Music Office had already run out of funding for this fiscal year. The state of Louisiana does not have a cap on tax credits.
“It was a significant amount of money that we had to raise,” said Jill Simpson, director at the Oklahoma Film & Music Office. “The difference that they would get with the rebate was well over a million dollars, probably close to two.”
The rebates and tax credits essentially take a percentage off of a studio’s budget to produce a film.
Simpson called the loss “heartbreaking” and said her office worked closely with the Oklahoma City Chamber to secure private funding. NBA rules, however, prohibit team owners from assisting financially because of the possibility of salary cap circumvention. That eliminated several locally-based corporations, including Chesapeake Energy, MidFirst Bank and SandRidge Energy.
Because of the lockout, as well as the small window prior to the start of the film’s production, the studio and other deal brokers were unable to communicate directly and effectively with key Thunder sponsors to gauge whether they’d be interested in supporting the movie.
“With the NBA lockout,” Simpson said, “there are so many restrictions to what the NBA will allow and won’t allow that at the last minute we found out that some of the people we brought to the table would be unable to participate.”
Filming, as first reported in The Oklahoman, remains on schedule to begin in mid-September.