Maui County working to expand film industry
WAILUKU — Mayor Alan Arakawa and his staff on Friday announced that Maui County is in serious discussions with Relativity Media — one of the leading forces in Hollywood — to create a sustainable and more profitable film industry in our islands.
Relativity Media LLC is a media and entertainment company which, to date, has committed to, produced and/or financed more than 200 studio-quality motion pictures through 2014.
Their released films have accumulated more than $15 billion worldwide in box office revenue and include “Salt,” “Despicable Me,” “Grown Ups,” “Charlie St. Cloud” and “Get Him to the Greek.”
Arakawa and Relativity Media CEO and founder Ryan Kavanaugh met numerous times last year.
Arakawa brought up the possibility of having a major motion picture studio here, and Kavanaugh said he “couldn’t be happier” to work with the Arakawa administration in making Maui County “a major production hub.”
Since then, the teams have been working closely together in preparing an overall strategy and plan to implement this major initiative.
“Having been instrumental in creating the new Montreal incentives and production programs, and having worked closely with New Mexico, Louisiana and many others, we can’t think of a better place than Maui to focus our efforts towards building a new industry which will help Maui’s economy,” Kavanaugh said.
“As one of the most beautiful places in the world, our goal is to help make Maui competitive with many of the other states and cities where our industry shoots hundreds of films. We want to help build an actual studio infrastructure, like we have built in many cities, along with developing proper tax incentives and a training/deeming program for residents so that they can work in the industry,” he continued.
“Maui can become one of the most competitive film studio environments. We look forward to working closely with the mayor and his administration, along with the Maui County Council and State Legislature to make this happen.”
“My goal is to diversify our economy, and this is a proven and very real way to do it,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“We have large, open areas where a major production studio could be built without interfering with our local communities or our environment. We also have many talented and unemployed residents who would love to the opportunity to work on motion pictures.
“We are extremely grateful that Relativity Media was as interested in working with us as we were to work with them. This is a sign of many good things to come for our county.“
County research indicates there are not enough stages around the globe to accommodate the growing tent pole films that are being made by the major Hollywood studios.
The plan of this initiative is to help build Maui into a competitive shooting environment that will attract these tent pole films and create a new local industry that will promote job growth, company growth and be a major stimulus to Maui’s local economy.
The county noted that Louisiana has become the third largest production center in the U.S. behind Los Angeles and New York.
And the city of Montreal over the last five years has worked with Relativity to create and build a film production business.
“We recognize there is a tremendous need for production capacity and, at the same time, a wonderful opportunity to create a new economic engine for our community. We have Maui County’s natural beauty, great weather and areas where production stages can easily be built. I envision this will create new jobs for our residents, stimulate our economy and most importantly, create long-term opportunities for our children,” said Arakawa.
As part of an outreach effort, Relativity invited Arakawa to join the Relativity and Weinstein Company Golden Globes event and after-party, as well as the “night before” event that benefits the Art Of Elysium charity.
Due to previous commitments, Mayor Arakawa was unable to attend and assigned Managing Director Keith Regan to represent him. While there, Regan met with heads of many studios, producers, directors and “A-list” talent in an effort to introduce the county’s vision for an expanded film industry.
“It was an incredible experience,” Regan said. “But more importantly, it marks the beginning of a very exciting time for our county. We can benefit so much more from the film industry. Really, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.“
Maui County Sports and Entertainment Specialist Brianne Savage added, “We welcome and look forward to working with Relativity Media in growing Maui County’s film industry.”
For more information on Relativity Media, visit www.relativitymediallc.com/.