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If you bill it, he will come: Kevin Costner wants to film 5 movies in Utah if this bill passes


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kevin Costner, the Academy Award-winning actor-director known for films such as “Dances With Wolves,” is lobbying Utah lawmakers, urging them to expand the size of the state’s tax rebate program by exempting rural productions.

“My biggest hope is that the state backs SB49 and that dream becomes a reality. I don’t really want to go anywhere else with these five movies,” Costner told the Deseret News, referencing Senate Bill 49, which is currently under consideration in the Utah Legislature.

As part of an effort to lure the film industry, Utah offers up to $8.3 million in tax rebates annually to productions who chose to film in-state. Under the Utah Film Commission’s Motion Picture Incentive Program, film projects can get returned 20 to 25% of the taxes they pay on direct production expenditures, including goods, services, wages and income.

Senate Bill 49 would carve out an exemption on the cost of incentives and lift the cap for rural film productions. State Sen. Ron Winterton, the proposal’s sponsor, argues increasing the size of incentives offered will draw more films to small, often tourism-reliant rural economies.

Proponents argue that production spending and the publicity from films shot in the state justify pouring tax revenue into incentive programs, which draw from the state’s general fund.

Costner’s push comes years after ’Yellowstone” moved most of its production from Utah to Montana after lawmakers there increased the size of that state’s incentive program.

Costner’s attorney told The Deseret News that Costner would likely choose not to shoot films, including his upcoming Western “Horizon” in Utah unless the state offered more incentives.

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