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Tax Credits Didn’t Stop Brad Pitt From Filming Philly Scenes in Glasgow

August 18, 2011

By now word has gotten around that Brad Pitt’s zombie apocalypse film, World War Z, is filming Philadelphia scenes in Glasgow (with Cochrane Street standing in for JFK Boulevard). It’s nice that the screen adaptation of Max Brooks’s 2006 novel kept Philadelphia as a setting, but it seems a hollow gesture now that they’re filming overseas.

Reports are that the movie will bring about $3.4 million into Glasgow. It’s not an overwhelming amount in an era of nine-figure budget deficits, but every little bit helps, right? One might wonder why Governor Corbett’s extension of the controversial Pennsylvania film tax incentives weren’t enough to ensure filming in Philly. One possible explanation is that Scotland’s tax incentives are far more generous. [Update: A friend in the industry points out that the decision my have been made in response to uncertainty about the continuation of Pennsylvania’s tax incentives. I’m unable to confirm the conjecture, but it’s certainly plausible–even M. Night Shyamalan, whose loyalty to his Philly roots is legendary, moved shooting for Devil to Canada in the face of tax uncertainty in 2009.] A cyncial take is that competing for glamorous (but not particularly lucrative) Hollywood business is a counterproductive race to the bottom, with Michigan and Louisiana (and Scotland?) leading the way. On the other hand, a charitable take is that, even notwithstanding disputed economic benefits, it boosts civic pride and helps foster local filmmaking, providing work to local film professionals and connecting Philly to the greater film community.

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