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WILMINGTON, NC –

We are getting our first look at the North Carolina House budget bill, and if the numbers stay intact, the budget will be very good for the state’s film industry.

The just-released house budget bill sets aside $60 million for film and entertainment grants.

The House Finance Committee will take up the bill at 5 p.m. Monday. It would need to make it through committee, the house and the senate to become a reality, but industry insiders say it’s an encouraging sign.

According to Wilmington Regional Film Commissioner Johnny Griffin, the state has given out an average of $60-$65 million in film grants over the last 3 years. The figure does not include the $20 million maximum incentive paid to Iron man 3, considered an anomaly due to the size of the production.

Since the last few years have been robust for the local film industry, Griffin said the $60 million should be a substantial enough incentive to lure productions back to North Carolina.

While Griffin said he’s “encouraged” by the preliminary budget figure, he said it’s “too early to get overly excited” about the prospects of the film incentives being restored to the caliber they have been over the last several years.

Before being capped at $10 million for the current fiscal year, North Carolina lawmakers had given film and television productions up to a 25 percent incentive for doing business here. The incentives lured major productions like CBS’s Under the Dome, ABC’s Secrets and Lies, and movies like Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy to southeastern North Carolina.

State Representative Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) is on the House Finance Committee, and said she would have a better idea of the status of the grant money after the committee meets today at 5 p.m.

State Senator Michael Lee (R- New Hanover) says he doesn’t believe senate leaders will back $60 million dollars in film incentives. “As hard as I have been working on this, they will not,” explained Lee. “I wish they would fund it at the amount in my bill ($66 million), and I am working as hard as I can to push the number as close to $66 million as is possible.”

By Ann McAdams