Negotiations over paying more public money to the Netflix program House of Cards broke down in Maryland Monday — not because of any effort to protect taxpayers from subsidizing Hollywood, but because some lawmakers also wanted the power to seize Hollywood properties through eminent domain.
House of Cards’ future shooting location is now up in the air. But others states are holding their cards tight before making a play for the expensive show.
Maryland’s budget reconciliation ended Monday night without an agreement to hike the incentive Maryland taxpayers give to film producers in order to induce them to shoot in the state.
As reported here in March, Beverly Hills–based Media Rights Capital (MRC), the producer of the popular potboiler, has been trying to persuade the Old Line State to increase its production tax credit from $15 million to $18.5 million. The Maryland senate was eager to pass that spending hike, but a leaked letter from an MRC official to Governor Martin O’Malley infuriated delegates in Maryland’s lower house. In response, a Democratic delegate introduced legislative language ordering the state to use its eminent-domain powers to seize the property of producers who left Maryland after concluding a production deal.
MRC senior vice president Charlie Goldstein informed O’Malley in February that “we are required to look at other states in which to film on the off chance that the legislation [expanding the tax credit] does not pass, or does not cover the amount of tax credits for which we would qualify.”
Goldstein’s letter went on to warn, “In the event sufficient incentives do not become available, we will have to break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state.”
Montgomery County delegate Bill Frick, who voted for the Hollywood tax credit and still supports it, responded with legislation ordering the state to use eminent-domain powers to seize the property of any company that claims $10 million or more from the state’s production tax credit and then departs the state.
It’s not clear whether the law could have been used against MRC, which appears to have completed its first two seasons to the satisfaction of all parties. The negotiation was over the show’s third season.
Maryland’s tiny neighbor, meanwhile, is getting ready to roar.
“I’d love to take a shot at ‘em,” T. J. Healy, director of Film Delaware, tells National Review Online. “By the way we have no sales tax. Our room-rate tax is the lowest around here too. We’d love to talk with them.”