Why aren't more movies made in Arizona? Valley 101 finds out

·2 min read
The opening scene of Psycho is a slow pan across the skyline of Phoenix which begins with this view and ends with a zoom in on the Barrister building.
The opening scene of Psycho is a slow pan across the skyline of Phoenix which begins with this view and ends with a zoom in on the Barrister building.

The Western movie genre held sway for decades over the box office. And Arizona featured prominently in many of them. From John Wayne to Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood to Kurt Russell, Hollywood’s golden actors flocked to our state to shoot movies.

But Arizona’s film history goes beyond the Wild West stereotype.

The golden age, according ASU film professor Chris LaMont, was actually during the 1980s and 1990s. That's when films such as "Raising Arizona," "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Jerry McGuire" were filmed.

The landscape of shooting movies really started to change in the 1990s and into the 2000s. Starting in Canada, film tax incentives were used to lure productions to shoot in locations outside of Los Angeles.

A 1976 ad in the Republic for the Sun Devil Stadium concert arranged as a backdrop for the movie "A Star Is Born."
A 1976 ad in the Republic for the Sun Devil Stadium concert arranged as a backdrop for the movie "A Star Is Born."

Very quickly, states such as Georgia and New Mexico created programs that would kick money back to filmmakers in the form of tax credits. Arizona had its own program from 2006 to 2010. But it had a built-in end date, and since then, the program hasn't been revived.

But there is hope, according some. Senate Bill 1708 is aimed at bringing back a tax incentive program for filmmakers. It has bipartisan support and is working its way through the Arizona Legislature now.

In this episode of Valley 101, we explore what movies were made in Phoenix and Arizona at large. And we find out why more movies aren't made here now.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Valley 101 asks why aren't more movies made in Arizona?