Opinion Piece

Proposed Las Vegas film studios plan to disrupt Hollywood monopoly

Hollywood has more than a century of success in the global film industry but soon could face strong competition from Las Vegas as the center of the U.S. filmmaking industry. Nevada Senate estimates show the Las Vegas Media Campus would support 7,100 jobs after completion and generate $54.6 million in annual tax revenues.

Mike Heuer
Mike Heuer

Last Updated: 2024-07-10

A. Tzamantanis

6 minutes read

Las Vegas Film Campus

Proposed Las Vegas Film Studios Could Disrupt Hollywood

Hollywood has more than a century of success in the global film industry but soon could face strong competition from Las Vegas as the center of the U.S. filmmaking industry.

Las Vegas has a lot going for it, including lots of sunshine, close proximity to mountains and desert lands, and a lower tax rate than in California.

“Las Vegas’ favorable topography, climate, accessibility, and extremely attractive tax structure definitely showcase a top location for the film industry beyond Hollywood,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman told SportsBoom in an email.

“Las Vegas already boasts many residents of an expanding movie industry population,” Goodman said. “These residents want to increase more meaningful tax incentives and also see a physical motion picture, technology hub, and lab established.”

She said Oscar-winning actor and Las Vegas resident Nicolas Cage worked with the Nevada Film Office to secure local approval for a $90 million pilot program that would give filmmakers a significant incentive to film in Nevada instead of California.

Cage isn’t the only A-list actor looking to bring the film industry to Las Vegas. Mark Wahlberg recently moved to Las Vegas and is investing in a film studio project.

Two Film Studio Campuses Proposed for Greater Las Vegas

Las Vegas is poised to become fierce competitors in the film industry with two studio campuses planned.

One would be a joint venture by Sony and the Howard Hughes Corporation with a significant investment by Wahlberg, who recently moved to Las Vegas from Southern California. The film studios would be located in Summerlin on the west side of the Las Vegas Valley and would be part of the Summerlin Studios Campus.

The other proposed film studio is the Las Vegas Media Campus project that would partner with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

The plans include a media lab and film studios located within the planned Harry Reid Research & Technology Park in southwestern Las Vegas.

“The city is always welcoming to new industries and advancing technology,” Goodman said. “ Naturally, we extend our well-known hospitality to all and especially those who seek opportunities for investing and creation and are visionaries.”

If the Sony/Hughes/Wahlberg studios and the Nevada Media Lab studios are built, they would be located just a few miles apart in the same general area and provide new jobs and careers for residents and economic opportunities beyond casino gaming and conventions.

“An industry as large and varied as the film industry will mean additional jobs and economic growth, development, and opportunities for all of Las Vegas and its residents,” Goodman said.

Tax Incentives Could Lure Film Productions

The Nevada Film Office offers up to $6 million in tax incentives for film productions that cost more than $500,000 to film in Nevada locations.

The tax incentives can help lower a film production’s labor, location, and production costs by up to 15 percent. Another 5 percent is available for film productions with more than half of their labor consisting of qualifying crews, plus another 5 percent when more than half of the production is done in a rural Nevada county.

The proposed film studio campuses also might get a significant boost from Nevada lawmakers who in 2025 are expected to take up proposed legislation to build film studios in Las Vegas and encourage more filmmakers to bring their productions to Nevada.

A high-ranking executive at Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm CBRE in a 2023 letter to Thomas Burns, executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said many production companies in California have a strong interest in moving to Las Vegas if the incentives are there.

“There would be an extremely high probability that major Hollywood studios and/or tech streaming companies would locate at the Las Vegas Media Campus as would multiple production and video game publishing companies,” CBRE vice chairman Jeffrey Pion said.

The initial push to pass the proposed Nevada Film Studio Infrastructure Act lacked sufficient support from the current Nevada Legislature.

State Sen. Roberta Lange said they’ll try it again early in 2025 and intend to pass enabling legislation so work could begin on the proposed film studio campuses in 2027.  

Mike Heuer
Mike HeuerLas Vegas Journalist

Experienced at news reporting, international travel reporting, copywriting, copy editing, photography, government relations, media relations, public relations and the tradeshow industry. Certified in cross-cultural communications with a bachelor's degree in print media journalism, minor in world history and a master's degree in public relations. More than 20 years' experience in publishing and general media. Avid motorcyclist and photographer, often combining the two on long trips. Learning to play jazz and classical guitar on my two Gibson Les Pauls and looking to expand the lineup. Love my two cats.