Sunday, June 23, 2024

‘Hit Man’ was meant to be set in Houston, but switched to New Orleans because of tax incentives

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The setting of “Hit Man” was changed from Houston to New Orleans because of tax incentives, according to a report by Texas Monthly.

“Hit Man,” Netflix’s latest comedy, is based on a 2001 article by Texas Monthly writer Skip Hollandsworth about Gary Johnson, an undercover hitman who operated in Houston.

Johnson, who died in 2022, pretended to be a professional killer so that he could catch people trying to hire one.

The film version makes a few alterations to Johnson’s story, including changing the location to New Orleans in neighboring Louisiana.

Earlier this month, Texas Monthly published an interview between Hollandsworth, a consultant on the movie, and “Hit Man” director Richard Linklater.

During the interview, Hollandsworth said the production was moved to New Orleans because “at the time, there were zero tax incentives to shoot in Texas.”

Linklater replied: “It was set to be a real Houston movie, with all of Houston’s eccentricity. But our state thought otherwise, so off we went to New Orleans, which is even more humid than Houston, I found out.”


Glen Powell and Richard Linklater promoting "Hit Man" in 2024.

Glen Powell and Richard Linklater cowrote “Hit Man.”

Rick Kern / Getty Images for Netflix



Louisiana’s Motion Picture Production Tax Credit program gives up to a 40% tax credit on in-state spending on movie productions. A 25% base credit is given for all productions, which is likely the incentive that “Hit Man” received.

Linklater told Texas Monthly that the film cost $10 or $11 million to make, which means the production likely saved a lot from moving to New Orleans. The film was produced independently and bought by Netflix in September 2023 for $20 million.

Over the past decade, Texas has struggled to compete with its neighboring states’ incentive programs to attract film productions.

Texas’ program works differently — it isn’t a tax credit but it gives a percentage of a production’s spending back to the producers.

After 2013, when Texas spent $95 million on the program, legislators began cutting the budget down and proposing bills to get rid of the incentive program entirely.

Janis Burklund, the director of the Dallas Film Commission, told D Magazine in 2017 that the cuts made it harder to attract big projects and could push homegrown talent to leave the state.

“Texas is losing a lot of jobs because we can’t compete,” she said.

In 2023, Texas reversed this decision, passing a bill that allocated $200 million to the incentive program.

That boost, combined with the success of TV series filmed in the state like “Yellowstone,” could bring film productions back to Texas.

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