ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Untitled Paramount series joins 2 other productions set to film in Utah

Jun 15, 2023, 7:30 AM | Updated: Oct 25, 2023, 3:20 pm

A cabin that belonged to the “Yellowstone” fictional character Rip Wheeler is pictured at Thous...

SALT LAKE CITY — The iconic landscapes of the Beehive State are set to be the backdrop of three new film productions estimated to generate an economic impact of $45 million and create 1,700 jobs across the respective communities they’re filmed in.

The Utah Film Commission last week announced that the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity approved the productions for state film incentives.

“We are excited to see a diversity of productions filming around the state and putting our talented crews and vendors to work,” Utah Film Commission Director Virginia Pearce said in a statement.

Among the approved productions is an “untitled episodic series” from Paramount Network that will be filmed in Summit County at the Utah Film Studios. This project is far and away the biggest of the latest approved productions with an estimated economic impact of $40 million.

“I am grateful to the state of Utah and the state Legislature for their continued support of the Utah Motion Picture Incentive Program,” Gary Crandall, owner of Utah Film Studios, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the Paramount is returning to Utah and will be providing a cash infusion into rural communities with this new project.”

Passed during the 2020 legislative session, SB49 exempts rural productions from the limits on the state’s annual tax incentive program. The state’s prior incentive, capped at $8.3 million annually, was dubbed inadequate by stakeholders in the film industry.

To be defined as a rural production, it must be state-approved and filmed primarily in third-, fourth-, fifth- or sixth-class counties, which would exclude Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Washington and Cache counties.

When Utah had several large productions vying for a rebate — as was the case with Paramount’s “Yellowstone” and the Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” remake — the cap limited what each show could receive, regardless of how much it spent.

This led Paramount and “Yellowstone” lead actor Kevin Costner to move operations north to Montana for seasons three and four of the popular Western drama, ending three years of production that dumped nearly $80 million into Heber City, Oakley, Kamas, Grantsville and Logan.

While it’s unclear whether Paramount’s latest Utah venture is related to “Yellowstone,” Costner previously said that Utah would be the ideal location to film his long-anticipated Western epic “Horizon.”

“I’ve dreamed for a long time about making my movie in Utah and scouting the state has been an incredible experience. My biggest hope is that the state backs SB49 and that dream becomes a reality. I don’t really want to go anywhere else with these five movies,” Costner said in a February 2022 statement.

The Western cinematic universe Costner envisions would be made up of five movies and would supplement whatever rural economy Costner chooses to film in, to the tune of $50 million.

The two other productions approved by the Utah Film Commission and the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity last week include “Destined at Christmas 2” and “Oops All Berries.”

“Destined at Christmas 2” is a “homegrown” sequel to the holiday film of the same name that premiered in 2022. The sequel is currently being filmed in Utah County and will be distributed through the Great American Family cable television network. Production is estimated to pump $447,517 into Utah County.

“Oops All Berries” was approved to begin shooting this summer in Emery and Grand counties and carries an estimated economic impact of just over $4.5 million.

“In creating a more grounded, globe-trotting film, it was important that we place our characters in as many practical locations as possible,” Brian Chapek, executive producer of “Oops All Berries,” said in a statement. “With that directive in mind, we needed a location somewhere in the United States to serve as the setting for one of our film’s most important sequences. We looked at many options and found that Utah featured such a unique and impressive geography that we hadn’t seen before in a movie. The Utah locations we scouted felt untouched by the larger world, which made us very excited to shoot there.”

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Untitled Paramount series joins 2 other productions set to film in Utah