Tucson took a first step to try to get back into the movie business by approving a local film incentive on Wednesday.
The incentive, which passed unanimously, would give films with production costs of $2 million a rent discount on city-owned or -operated property.
While the incentive would likely amount to a discount only for renting out the Tucson Convention Center, Councilman Steve Kozachik, who proposed the move, said it’s needed to rebuild the movie industry in the city.
“The true but sad fact is that we’re not even in the game right now. Production companies are flying right over us to New Mexico and Texas,” Kozachik said. “I want us as a locality to take a leadership role in putting us back on the map for films. A local incentive package will be a necessary step in that direction.”
He said film dollars would touch every sector of the local economy.
Only 10 states, including Arizona, do not offer production incentives to the film industry, said Tucson Film Office Director Shelli Hall.
Hall said after the Legislature failed in the past three years to restore tax incentives, they started to pursue the local route.
Without incentives, major productions will continue to bypass Tucson, said Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson.
In the past few years, DeRaad said major films such as “Django Unchained” and “3:10 to Yuma” expressed interest in Tucson but ultimately chose states that offered attractive incentives.
For any incentive to be legal, City Attorney Mike Rankin said, the city would have to ensure it receives a value equal or greater than what it gives out.
Council members Karin Uhlich and Richard Fimbres wanted to see a broader incentive package that included sporting events, the rodeo and more.
But in the end, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s sentiment won out.
“I think we shouldn’t sacrifice the good today for the perfect,” Rothschild said.
The staff will return to the council with a final ordinance at a later date.
JAN. 8 MEMORIAL
The council voted unanimously to support the January 8 Memorial to go up on the east side of El Presidio Park.
On Monday, the January 8 Memorial Foundation announced it had chosen the Old Pima County Courthouse and the adjacent park as the permanent site to the victims and survivors of the Jan. 8 shootings.
But before they could proceed, they needed the go-ahead from Pima County and the city.
The county approved a similar resolution on Tuesday.
Rothschild said the memorial will commemorate those affected by the violence of that day and a reminder of the need for rational gun policies and improved mental health services.