Yet another Nicholas Sparks film has slipped through our fingers. The production team of “The Lucky One” set up offices in New Orleans on Monday. Although Wilmington’s EUE/Screen Gems studios was a consideration, the producers officially announced they had decided to make the film in Louisiana last Friday, said Craig Fincannon, founder of local casting agency Fincannon and Associates.
High School Musical star Zac Efron signed on for the lead role of the romantic drama about a U.S. Marine who returns from Iraq to search for the young woman in a photo he had found and carried throughout his tour of duty. He finds her in North Carolina, he said.
But, North Carolina’s $1 million tax incentive cap on highly compensated individuals (actors and directors) sent the film to Louisiana, Fincannon said. Efron signed a contract for more than that amount, he said. So, the production team decided to go elsewhere.
Currently Louisiana offers film production companies a 30 percent tax incentive on any motion picture project and does not have any caps on the size of the film or talent pay, said Chris Stelly, director of Film and Television in the Louisiana Office of Entertainment Industry Development.
North Carolina offers film companies a 25 percent tax incentive and recently raised the film tax cap from $7.5 million to $20 million this past legislative session. However, the cap on talent remains at $1 million.
Last summer, Disney chose to film Sparks’ “The Last Song” starring Miley Cyrus in Georgia despite initial plans to film in North Carolina.