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NM film industry breaks record despite pandemic

New Mexico Economic Development Cabinet Security Alicia J. Keyes talks about the official opening of the NBCUniversal’s New Mexico production studio on Thursday, June, 24, 2021.(Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico remains a hot spot for film and TV.

The state announced this week that the New Mexico film industry has brought in $623 million in what is known as a “direct spend” with one week left to go in the fiscal year.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the film industry broke the record of $525.5 million set in fiscal year 2019. In fiscal year 2020, the film industry had a direct spend of $386.8 million.

Contributing to the record-breaking year are film partnerships with NBCUniversal and Netflix. Both entities have signed a 10-year commitment to bring film and TV projects to the state.

“This has put us on a global scale to attract film and television and multimedia productions to the state,” said Alicia J. Keyes, Cabinet Secretary of Economic Development Department. “This money supports New Mexicans and small businesses around the state.”

On Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller participated in the official opening for NBCUniversal’s production facility in Martineztown.

Lujan Grisham gave credit to the film industry for its continued growth. “Quite frankly, this industry is a star industry during the pandemic,” Lujan Grisham said. “(The film industry) had one of the lowest positivity rates, if not the lowest in the state.”

For more than a decade, New Mexico’s film incentive package has been seen as the gold standard in the industry. The package offers a 25-30% rebate on New Mexico goods and services.

bright spot“We lead. We do it right,” Lujan Grisham said. “This is an incredible place for the film industry. … We’re not just making movies here. We are a movie industry hub for the United States and the globe. This is where you want to be if you’re going to be doing productions.”

NBCUniversal has kept production at a steady pace during the pandemic. Its latest production was also announced on Tuesday.

The TV comedy series, “MacGruber” is being filmed for the Peacock streaming service and will be filming through August.

Eleven years ago, the feature film for MacGruber called New Mexico home and NBCUniversal wanted to bring production back to the state.

“MacGruber” is based on a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and the 2010 feature film.

It stars Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Mickey Rourke and Ryan Phillipe.

According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production will employ approximately 225 New Mexico crew members, 61 New Mexico actors and stunt players, and 850 New Mexico background actors.

Lujan Grisham said the production will have a $25 million direct spend.

“It means restaurants, purchasing lumber, hiring New Mexicans and investing in all the fabrication,” Lujan Grisham said. “All the work that goes into actually creating these productions means that New Mexico businesses are thriving and New Mexico workers are fully employed.”

According to the New Mexico Film Office, not including “MacGruber,” there have been 28 productions announced by the film office during this fiscal year.

The number of New Mexico crew hired for the productions is 3,302. There have been 986 New Mexico actors within those productions.

The biggest impact is with background actors, which is 7,963 New Mexicans hired.

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