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Senate approves $5M in tax credits for movie post-production

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill providing tax credits valued at $5 million annually to companies that stay in Utah to complete post-production work on movies squeaked through the Senate Wednesday.

A scene from HBO's

Utah Film Commission

A scene from HBO's "Westworld." The Beehive State is continuing to draw interest and investment from entertainment behemoths like Disney Studios and HBO, which, respectively, shot "Andi Mack" and "Westworld" in the state in 2017, as well as smaller productions which, all told, spent some $64 million last year and kept more than 2,400 Utahns working.

The sponsor of SB185, Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, said filming a movie is a "flash in the pan" compared to what happens after the shoot, including film editing, sound mixing, visual effects and animation.

"Those are the long-term jobs," Anderegg said.

Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, was among the senators voting against the bill that passed 15-10 and now goes to the House. Fiillmore questioned what the state was getting for the incentive.

The same tax credit, up to 20 percent of operating expenses, that's already available for movies filmed in Utah can be seen as marketing the state to theatergoers around the country, he said.

"You can consider that an investment in tourism," Fillmore said. "This post production, I don't think you can make that argument."

Anderegg said while the bill allows credits of up to 20 percent, the "vast majority" of the post-production credits would be closer to 5 percent because they are based on the size of the production.