Sony’s ‘Mall Cop 2’ Tax Credit Pitch Gives View of Movie Budget

Sony Corp.’s request for $4.38 million in Nevada tax credits for making “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” in the state provides a rare glimpse into the budget of a major studio film.

The Tokyo-based company plans to spend $46 million on the sequel to its 2009 comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” The budget includes more than $9 million for the cast, $2.2 million for the story and rights, and almost $1.6 million for direction. Wardrobe would cost about $664,000; hair and makeup, $394,000.

The numbers were made public yesterday at a hearing before the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development in Las Vegas, according to a copy of the agenda.

Line-by-line disclosure of a film’s budget “is a good first step” in the public discourse over tax credits, which cost taxpayers money and may not be effective in long-term job creation, according to Robert Tannenwald, a lecturer in public finance at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, who has studied the incentives.

Policymakers and the public need to look at the numbers, such as the amount spent locally, and “interpret their significance,” Tannenwald said in a telephone interview.

Nevada expenditures would make up 70 percent of the film’s budget, according to the agenda documents. The 49-day shoot, scheduled to begin April 14, will take place entirely in the state, creating an estimated 3,578 jobs.

In-State Vendors

The film’s producers will hire Nevada crew members, purchase and rent goods and services from in-state vendors and feature the Wynn Resort, “therefore encouraging Las Vegas tourism,” according to the report.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, last year signed legislation offering as much as $20 million annually to local productions. Nevada is one of 40 states and 30 countries that have adopted film incentives, according to Film L.A. Inc., a nonprofit that administers permits in Southern California.

Actor Kevin James is reprising his role as Paul Blart, a shopping center security guard. In this film, Blart is attending a guard convention at a resort with his teen daughter Maya and winds up battling a gang of art thieves who take her hostage, while fending off romantic interest from a “hot hotel manager.”

The first picture grossed $183 million worldwide on a budget of $26 million, according to Ticket sales are split roughly 50-50 between the studio and theaters.

Steve Hill, executive director of the development office, has until 30 days after the hearing to make a decision about the credits, according to Jennifer Cooper, a spokeswoman for the department.

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