KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Sylvester Stallone’s new streaming television series goes online later this fall, viewers will see the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma, not Kansas City, Missouri.
Creators of the show "Tulsa King" originally pitched it with the name "Kansas City", but decided to film in Tulsa partially because the state offers incentives to production studios. Missouri and Kansas do not offer those incentives.
“We lost on that huge opportunity, a real, whole season of a big show starring Sylvester Stallone,” explained Steph Shannon, director of the KC Film Office and vice president of communications for the Missouri Motion Media Association. “Those are the projects that can be so economically impactful to our region and every kind of business, not just our film industry. That is so disappointing to lose out on stuff like that.”
Shannon says film incentives within the city of Kansas City, Missouri, helped lure Amy Poehler’s new non-scripted show called "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning" to Kansas City. Filming recently wrapped and the show should be available for viewing on Peacock in 2023.
But she says statewide film incentives are necessary. She’s working with Grow Kansas Film to get incentives in Kansas and her role with the Missouri Motion Media Association includes working with lawmakers in Jefferson City to create incentives.
The incentives are often in the form of tax rebates or credits. When production companies work in a state, and meet certain requirements, the state will reimburse them on some of the taxes they spent while in town.
Supporters say luring the producers to town generates revenue for local businesses and employees that never would’ve existed without those projects. Opponents say the rebates offer too little return on investment.
This week Shannon is in New York City pitching Kansas City to filmmakers during the Gotham Week expo. She says incentives are the first thing filmmakers ask about.
“Then we can talk about the content and maybe what locations we have that fit their story and our crew-based questions, things like that, but incentives are the very first question always,” Shannon said.
The Missouri Senate did not vote on a bill introduced during this year’s legislative session to approve incentives. Shannon will try again in 2023.
"Tulsa King" will air on Paramount+ beginning in November.