Mark Wahlberg lobbies for Nevada film tax credit expansion

Sean Golonka
Sean Golonka
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Actor Mark Wahlberg, left, and David O'Reilly, chief executive officer at The Howard Hughes Corporation outside the Legislature in Carson City on May 31, 2023. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent).

Just as the buzz from Jeremy Renner’s visit to the Legislature was dwindling, another high-profile Hollywood figure with Nevada ties swooped into Carson City to meet with lawmakers and show support for the proposed multibillion-dollar expansion of the state’s film tax credit program.

Around 7:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Mark Wahlberg — an actor famous for his performances in Ted and The Departed — rolled up to the Legislature in a black SUV, stepping out to join up with lobbyists and other supporters of the film tax credit bill, SB496.

After spending the morning in the building meeting with lawmakers, Wahlberg — a recent Las Vegas transplant who has been filming in Southern Nevada — spoke to reporters highlighting his support for expanding the tax credit program.

“There's so much talent here, and there's so much potential here,” he said of Southern Nevada. “When I made my first film here, which was in February, I realized the talent pool that exists here and the opportunity that's here; there isn't a better place to do it.”

Wahlberg said that creating a long-term commitment through the 20-plus year tax credit envisioned in the bill would lead to the industry staying longterm in Nevada, noting that based on his experience in the industry, “​​people have been chasing tax credits from state to state and city to city.”

His comments came shortly after the Senate Finance Committee heard SB496, marking a second pit stop for the bill after it passed out of a policy committee earlier this week. The measure would make up to $190 million in film transferable tax credits available for Nevada productions over 20 years, with most credits earmarked for a pair of studio projects in Southern Nevada and availability of the credits dependent on major capital investments in the development of the production campuses.

Though Wednesday’s hearing primarily saw the proponents, including Howard Hughes Corp. CEO David O’Reilly and Sony Pictures CEO ​​Tony Vinciquerra, double down on arguments from the bill’s first hearing, the bill presented Wednesday came with some technical changes. That includes the removal of a provision that would have allowed the $190 million in annual film tax credits to be refunded, which could have forced the state to pay cash to businesses with excess credits, and another provision that would have increased the amount of credits annually based on inflation.

The bill’s backers also presented new details for Howard Hughes Corp. and Sony’s plans for a Summerlin studio project, which would be built near I-215 and Hualapai Way across from a planned Station Casinos development and just a few miles away from the other studio project proposed under SB496, which Birtcher Development is seeking to build at the Harry Reid Technology Park in partnership with UNLV.

Meanwhile, Renner continues to push for the film tax credit bill to include Northern Nevada. Last week, former Gov. Brian Sandoval backed that inclusion.

Though Renner’s team pitched an amendment to create a tax credit zone outside of Southern Nevada and that amendment was included in a presentation to lawmakers Monday, it has not yet been formally adopted into the bill.

O’Reilly addressed that by saying he hadn’t seen the amendment and therefore he couldn’t comment on it, but is “always open to collaborating with all stakeholders.”

“We're wide open to that,” O’Reilly said. “We think we have a substantial bucket in terms of the non infrastructure film tax credits available that will be more than sufficient for filming outside of Southern Nevada.”

Editor’s Note: This story appears in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2023 legislative session. Sign up for the newsletter here.


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