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Did Pending State Legislation Cause Fox to Pull Marvel Series 'The Gifted' From Dallas?

"Noooooooooo!" says every local Marvel Comics fan who just learned that 20th Century Fox won't be filming its new network series The Gifted in Dallas.
"Noooooooooo!" says every local Marvel Comics fan who just learned that 20th Century Fox won't be filming its new network series The Gifted in Dallas.
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
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When Dallas film commissioner Janis Burklund left her office Tuesday, she was "90 percent sure" that 20th Century Fox would stay in Dallas to shoot its new Marvel Comics series The Gifted later this summer, she says.

By Wednesday morning, that percentage dropped to zero.

The team behind the dramatic action series, which shot its pilot in Dallas in March, directed by X-Men director Bryan Singer, decided not to return to Dallas to shoot the first season. There are likely several factors that influenced the decision, including pending state legislation that would reduce funding for the state's film and TV incentive program.

The Dallas Film Commission said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon on the group's Facebook page that Fox "needed to make a decision last week, waited until yesterday even, but time ran out given the Texas Legislature has not finished it's [sic] business this session."

"With The Gifted, we missed out on a significant amount of money," Burklund says. "The show was not only going to spend more than $25 million in six months, but it was going to potentially last for years. Marvel has a huge fan following, and it's a network show. It's just a real shame. It could have helped by catching some wind under us and lifted the industry up.

"They were on a very tight timeline," Burklund continues. "It's a big show. They had lots of sets to build and things to get ready. They also had an air date, and they delayed it as long as they could, but they had to make a decision because the legislature wasn't done doing their stuff. They just had to go."

One of the bills that concerned the show's production team calls for the "abolishment" of the Texas Moving Image Incentive Program, along with the governor's entire media office. The bill was authored and filed by Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) in 2015, according to state legislative records.

In a statement, Shaheen's office said that Fox's decision to leave the state proves the ineffectiveness of the incentive program.

"Under the current budget, the Film Commission is fully funded through August of this year and the proposed budget gives out $22 million over the next years," the statement read. "Despite these facts, 20th Century Fox Television is deciding not to film in Texas. This shows once again how ineffective the Film Commission program truly is in attracting quality productions to our state."

State Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) released a statement blaming the loss of this production on efforts to strip the incentive program out of the state's budget, coupled with other "discriminatory legislation" such as a controversial bill regarding bathroom use by transgender students, which the House passed Monday.

"Texas' film incentive programs have generated billions of dollars in revenue and have created thousands of jobs in our state," Johnson says. "Texas Republicans need to stop killing Texas jobs."

Burklund says that it's hard to tell how the state's legislative decisions could play a role in jeopardizing Dallas' and Texas' chances for attracting future film and TV productions. The one thing she says she's sure of is that leaving matters like the existence of lucrative incentives in limbo played a huge role in moving a major network show and all of its tax dollars and job opportunities out of the city's limits.

"They tied our hands," she says. "If it wouldn't have been for this timing issue of where things stood, [the show] would have been there by now."

A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox declined to comment.

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