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The Incentive Obstacle

Incentives for production companies aren’t an obstacle. According to multiple film professionals in the state, including Cannon and Payne, the incentives are absolutely necessary to get productions to even consider Oklahoma as a solution. The obstacle, as they see it, is to get the legislature to increase the current $30 million incentive to $50 million or more.

“Tulsa King is a great example,” Payne said. “We told legislators that $30 million dollars isn’t enough to keep Tulsa King, and the show is not coming back in 2023 because they’re looking for better incentives elsewhere.” 

Over against critics who insist the benefits of incentives are too hard to quantify or are often overstated, Prairie Surf talks hard numbers.

“For every $30 million in incentives, we get $100 million in production in the state,” Cannon said. 

They have the data* to back it up too. In an ROI comparison of fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2020 versus fiscal year 2022, total output averaged $13.99 million in 2014 to 2020, and $100.5 million in 2022. Wages went from an average of $6.8 million to $41.8 million. The increase is impressive, and the increase of the incentive under the Filmed in Oklahoma Rebate Program from $8 million to $30 million also increased the output multiplier from 1.2 to 1.9. 

While the output of $100 million represents tremendous growth, Payne points out that $100 million out of the $180 billion that’s coming from the industry in 2024 is not a large percentage.

“Against the $180 billion, we’re not even in the main part of the game yet, and projects like the ‘Twister’ reboot will bring $100 million by itself,” he said. “Tulsa King is to Oklahoma as the Hornets were to Oklahoma City. We’ve shown that it can be done, and now we need to increase the incentives to keep building and to ensure shows don’t leave to look elsewhere.”

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