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Gaming Guru

Chris Jones
 

Pretty As The Pictures

30 January 2006

Television and film productions pumped $102.5 million into the state's economy last year, the Nevada Film Office said Friday.

It was the sixth consecutive year the industry exceeded $100 million in statewide revenue.

"That's not a sum that's going to compete with the gaming industry, but anytime you bring in $100 million it's something substantial," Charles Geocaris, director of the Nevada Film Office, said before a Friday news conference at the Aladdin.

Nevada last year hosted 673 productions that generated 3,210 workdays for actors, directors and the countless crew personnel required for successful shoots.

Both totals eclipsed the 654 productions and 3,072 workdays reported in 2004, though revenue that year was 12 percent higher at $116.9 million.

Geocaris said it's difficult to determine revenue patterns from year to year because no one can predict which productions will select this state.

Under the direction of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, the film office aggressively lobbies producers to use Nevada's wide assortment of locales including the Strip and Lake Tahoe to remote highways or sand dunes near Winnemucca.

Nevada leaders must compete with other states and nations including Canada, where favorable exchange rates have captured many film and TV productions in recent years. To better compete, the state recently compiled a nearly 400-page production directory to aid would-be film crews in finding everything from locations to camera rentals to caterers.

Thanks to location shoots for shows such as NBC's "Las Vegas" and CBS's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and visits from British, Australian and Japanese camera crews, television series and specials topped Nevada's latest production list with nearly $39.3 million in revenue.

Reality TV programs chipped in another $10.3 million, while music video shoots added $2.9 million.

The state hosted 64 feature films last year, which added $18.2 million to the economy.

Because films are typically released months or years after they're filmed on location, Geocaris said most upcoming titles won't yet resonate with the public.

Possible exceptions include Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky Balboa," which filmed boxing scenes at Mandalay Bay in December, and "Smokin' Aces," which stars Ben Affleck and Jeremy Piven.

Nevada-based films released in theaters last year included "Domino," a Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke drama that included an explosion atop the Stratosphere tower, and "The Island," which set the Rhyolite ghost town as a backdrop for actors Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson.

"It's exciting when people see film crews working near their back yards," Geocaris said, adding film shoots have in recent years inspired many young Nevadans to pursue careers in the film and television industries.

Still photography poured in $10.1 million, while television ad makers touting products such as Choice Hotels International and American Honda Motor Co. spent $9.8 million.

Motion pictures filmed in the state form a lengthy list of theatrical studs and duds.

Classics include "The Godfather: Part II," which used a Lake Tahoe mansion as the home of Al Pacino's gangster Michael Corleone; "Rain Man," which claimed 1988's Academy Award for best picture thanks to memorable scenes at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas; and "Casino," a 1995 semifictional look at Las Vegas organized crime starring Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone.

Less-memorable productions include Nicolas Cage's "Con Air" and Chevy Chase's "Vegas Vacation." But even the bombs produced revenue.

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF FILM IN NEVADA

2005 2004

Total revenue $102.5 million $116.9 million

Productions 673 654

Work days 3,210 3,072

SOURCE: Nevada Film Office