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Discussions About Hawaii Film Studio

Maui Mayor in serious talks with Hollywood media company

Jan 22, 2011

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii - Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and his staff today announced that Maui County is in serious discussions with Relativity Media to create a sustainable and more profitable film industry in the Hawaiian islands.

Relativity Media LLC is a media and entertainment company which to date has committed to, produced, and/or financed more than 200 studio-quality motion pictures through 2014. Their released films have accumulated more than US$15 billion worldwide in box office revenue and include Salt, Despicable Me, Grown Ups, Charlie St. Cloud, and Get Him to the Greek.

Mayor Alan Arakawa and Relativity Media CEO and founder Ryan Kavanaugh have had numerous meetings while Mayor Arakawa was still serving as Mayor-elect last year. Arakawa brought up the possibility of having a major motion picture studio in Maui, and Kavanaugh said he "couldn't be happier" to work with the Arakawa administration in making Maui County "a major production hub." Since that time, the teams have been working closely together in preparing an overall strategy and plan to implement this major initiative.

"Having been instrumental in creating the new Montreal incentives and production programs, and having worked closely with New Mexico, Louisiana, and many others, we can't think of a better place than Maui to focus our efforts towards building a new industry which will help Maui's economy," Kavanaugh said.

"As one of the most beautiful places in the world, our goal is to help make Maui competitive with many of the other states and cities where our industry shoots hundreds of films. We want to help build an actual studio infrastructure, like we have built in many cities, along with developing proper tax incentives, and a training/deeming program for residents so that they can work in the industry."

"Maui can become one of the most competitive film studio environments. We look forward to working closely with the Mayor and his administration along with the Maui County Council and State Legislature to make this happen."

"My goal is to diversify our economy and this is a proven and very real way to do it," said Mayor Alan Arakawa.

"We have large, open areas where a major production studio could be built without interfering with our local communities or our environment. We also have many talented and unemployed residents who would love to the opportunity to work on motion pictures.

"We are extremely grateful that Relativity Media was as interested in working with us as we were to work with them. This is a sign of many good things to come for our county.

"Our research has shown there are not enough stages around the globe to accommodate the growing tent pole films that are being made by the major Hollywood studios. The plan of this initiative is to help build Maui into a competitive shooting environment, which will attract such tent pole films, and, by doing such, creates a new local industry that will promote job growth, company growth, and be a major stimulus to Maui's local economy. For example:
Louisiana has become the 3rd largest production center in the USA behind, Los Angeles and New York.

The city of Montreal, over the last five years, has worked with Relativity, to create and build a film production business. Over the past two years, the "Relativity bill" and plan led to a provisional rebate program (which combined with Federal Incentives and VFX bonuses) has trumped the most aggressive countries. Their new incentives, stages, and deeming program has made Montreal one of, if not the, most competitive shooting city for large scale Hollywood productions in existence.

Film production initiatives, like the one in Montreal, serves to create thousands of jobs and grow current local companies, introduce new industries and new local companies, all which service the US film industry. Relativity worked to help create the most competitive studios in Montreal, and as every major studio is now clawing for control of the Montreal Stages, they are doubling the size of the stage and equipment facility, which is already one of the largest in the world.

To date, the direct spend in Montreal has been US$250 million in production. This is directly attributable to the new law and Relativity's activities, with an overall benefit of US$500 million to the Quebec economy.

The US Film business in the city of London alone directly employs about 36,000 people. If we include the multiplier effect, which studies do, 100,000 people derive their income from the film industry. The taxation commensurate with that is significant. The industry provides about euro 1.6 billion in direct revenues to the country and euro 440 million in taxation.

Even Louisiana, despite its overall economic and political hardships, through mid-October has already had 126 projects apply for permits to shoot in the state, up from 105 for all of 2009, as compared to one film which shot in Maui in 2009. Film production in 2010 alone is estimated to have introduced US$807 million into Louisiana's economy.

In New Mexico, Ernest and Young determined that for every US$1 that the state spends in Film rebates/tax credits, the state receives US$1.5 back tax revenues and tens of thousands of jobs created.

Michigan, a state which has faced overall economic and political hardship, was able to benefit from more than US$648 million being spent on productions since incentives took effect. In 2010, more than 110 applications, 57 productions were approved for film incentive agreements, 50 productions wrapped, and more than US$300 million was anticipated in instate production expenditures with more than 10,000 jobs being created.

"We recognize there is a tremendous need for production capacity and, at the same time, a wonderful opportunity to create a new economic engine for our community. We have Maui County's natural beauty, great weather, and areas where production stages can easily be built. I envision this will create new jobs for our residents, stimulate our economy, and most importantly create long term opportunities for our children," said Arakawa.

As part of an outreach effort, Relativity invited Mayor Arakawa to join the Relativity and Weinstein Company Golden Globes event and after party, as well as the "night before" event which benefits the Art Of Elysium charity.

Unfortunately, due to previous commitments, Mayor Arakawa was unable to attend and assigned Managing Director Keith Regan to represent him. While there, Regan met with heads of many studios, producers, directors, and A-list talent in an effort to introduce the county's vision for an expanded film industry.

"It was an incredible experience," Regan said. "But more importantly it marks the beginning of a very exciting time for our county. We can benefit so much more from the film industry. Really, we haven't even scratched the surface yet."

Maui County Sports and Entertainment Specialist Brianne Savage added, "We welcome and look forward to working with Relativity Media in growing Maui County's film industry."

Maui Mayor in serious talks with Hollywood media company
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