CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte's been a little starstruck to see movie and TV shows shooting around town.


We're actually going to name a pizza the Emily Maynard, one pizzeria owner said.

The excitement is clearly palpable, but the effects on the economy are not. Right now, a 25 percent tax credit to big film and TV productions is set to expire January 1, and the General Assembly is talking about changing the way it gives film companies tax credits.One plan calls for replacing the credit with grants, but also calls for less money set aside for helping out movie companies.Some lawmakers want to use that money to help give a raise to teachers. But the mayor of Wilmington, who has a studio in his city, wants things left alone.

We want to show them that this incentive is paying dividends, said mayor Bill Saffo. It's making money for the state. It's making money for our communities. It's employing a lot of people and it is helping a lot of small business owners that depend on the film industry for work.

So we know the tax credit creates jobs, it creates business, and that helps create tax dollars. But the problem is that there's no agreement on how much is created.

Take a study commissioned by regional film commissions and the country's biggest movie lobbying group, the Motion Picture Association of America.It says that for every tax dollar the state gave up to lure movie companies here, it actually generated $1.09 of state tax revenue on everything from sales taxes on movie location tours and equipment rental to income taxes from the crews based here. A 9 percent return on investment seems pretty good.

But the General Assembly's Fiscal Research Division says the report is wrong, and that number is actually more like 46 cents back per dollar spent. That's a loss.

And that's the problem. A 2010 story from said, it's hard to get a good handle on the exact impact of an in-state movie production.

With so many other states around that are offering incentives, the film industry is worried about what happens if North Carolina cuts back.But the question of whether the state is getting what it's paying for, is still anyone's guess.
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