Cuomo cites Spider-Man 2 as proof of tax concept

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A still from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Entertainment, Niko Tavernise)
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ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Motion Picture Association of America are touting the economic impacts of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a summer action movie opening at midnight that was filmed around New York with a chunky—and unspecified—amount of taxpayer subsidies.

Sony Pictures produced the comic-based sequel, which employed 3,900 people on its cast and crew as well as 5,223 extras. The MPAA said in a press release that the studio paid $44 million in wages (resulting in $4.5 million in income taxes paid by New York residents) and an additional $150 million in ancillary activities, including catering, site fees and hotel rooms.

“This summer’s biggest blockbuster, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is proof positive that New York State is the place to be for filming major motion pictures,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Thanks to the Film Production Tax Credit Program, we were able to attract the largest movie production ever to be filmed in the Empire State, and it paid off for New Yorkers from Rochester to New York City and Long Island. While filming across the State, Peter Parker and the Spider-Man team provided local businesses and communities with a big boost in revenue and hiring, and we look forward to the continued growth, successes, and economic impact of the film and television industry here in New York.”

New York's budget includes $420 million a year in refundable tax credits for film and television production, which came under fire late last year in an unpublished report from a Cuomo-convened tax commission. Filmmakers can be reimbursed for 30 percent of their qualifying costs, so according to the report “in effect it is a program of cash payments by the state to credit recipients.” New York's economic development officials defended the credit program for spurring larger activity, especially in lagging areas.

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Major filming for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 occurred in downtown Rochester—which stood in for Manhattan—last spring. Some businesses complained that the crews took over their streets and cost them up to $1,000 a day in earnings.

It's unclear exactly how much Sony received from the state for the film. Until last year, Empire State Development would only list credits to a particular studio rather than assign them to a given project, because reimbursement requests trickle in over time and studios would rather not disclose financial details of various films.

Sony and Columbia received just under $48 million in 2011, 2012 and 2013.