PR’s film industry lures land a whale
Landing “Pirates of the Caribbean” promises to be the biggest production landed to date by aggressive incentives aimed at luring filmmakers to the island.
Based on reported budgets, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($300 million) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” ($250 million) are among the top 10 most expensive movies ever made. The series has grossed more than $3.7 billion around the world so far, ranking it among the most successful movie franchises ever, while production costs topped $900 million through four installments.
Scenes from “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth installment in the series, were shot in Puerto Rico two years ago, with producers praising the island’s film crews and scenery. But the bulk of franchise has been shot in Hawaii.
Hollywood heavyweight Johnny Depp is expected to again sign on to play the leading role of Jack Sparrow. The American actor is no stranger to Puerto Rico, having filmed both “The Rum Diary” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” on the island.
Gov. Luis Fortuño this summer signed another package of tax breaks aimed at luring more Hollywood film crews to the Caribbean island.
Fortuño said the additional incentives will make the U.S. island territory among the most attractive locales for film production crews. The neighboring Dominican Republic has also answered Puerto Rico’s attractive production incentives with its own set of economic lures.
The incentives stamped in July will provide film studio tax credits for money spent on non-resident actors, writers, directors and other talent. Previous legislation already created tax credits for hiring Puerto Rican residents.
Many U.S. states have similar programs to entice film crews.
Incentives in place since March 2011 have resulted in about 30 productions coming to the island, generating about $80 million in investment. Recent examples include television episodes for Showtime’s “The Big C” and the movie “Runner, Runner” with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.
Currently filming at sites around the island, “Runner, Runner” is expected to pump $35 million into the island economy.
Puerto Rico’s aggressive incentives, talented local crews, varied backdrops, solid infrastructure and sound legal protections are continuing to pay off in the effort to grab film industry attention.
Films mean direct and indirect jobs and get money flowing through the island economy, Economic Development & Commerce Secretary José Pérez-Riera has said.
Leading industry publication Variety has trumpeted Puerto Rico’s varied settings, noting that the island has stood in for Iraq, Vietnam, Spain, Brazil, Cuba and various other “far-flung places” as filmmakers increasingly look to the island for its diverse backdrops and talented local crews.