NY has more generous film incentives than NC. So why was ‘Gatsby’ filmed in Australia?

The Great Gatsby is a story set in Long Island. The state of New York offers production companies an even more aggressive array of film incentives than North Carolina, including a 30 percent, fully refundable tax credit. This is a no-brainer, right? “Gatsby” would obviously be filmed in its natural home.

Well, it’s not so simple. As I explained in my Spotlight report on North Carolina’s film incentives, not only do U.S. states compete with each other in a race to the bottom to lure film production companies in, but they also compete with foreign countries.

If North Carolina can be made to resemble Afghanistan, then Australia can be made to resemble Long Island. And Australia has aggressive film incentives as well.

“Gatsby,” set in New York, was filmed in Australia. Now New York wants even more aggressive film incentives. Just as North Carolina saw a North Carolina-set project go to Georgia and then upped our incentives, causing Minnesota to witness a Minnesota-set project come here and then upped its incentives …

So we beat on, ceaselessly racing to the bottom.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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