The example of Home Again underscores how filmmakers can easily switch between locations and still create the look they want for a film.
“A lot of times the [decision is] between the states and a foreign jurisdiction,” Berro said. Instead of choosing between Caribbean countries, “it really may be between Puerto Rico and Florida. … They can make the film look the way they want it to look.”
That makes the size and ease of using the incentive package all the more important. Companies often sell the credit to local brokers and receive cash, film industry professionals said, meaning even foreign exchange rates are considered.
Despite the proliferation of countries offering tax incentives, Hollywood has favored Puerto Rico in recent years. Hits such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Fast Five were filmed there, leading trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter last year to publish an article, “Why Hollywood Loves Puerto Rico.”
The film industry is so important to the government that after the Dominican Republic announced its incentives in early 2011, it made substantial changes to its own program. The film commission now offers a 40 percent tax credit on some productions to a maximum of $350 million a year (instead of $15 million a year previously).
The destination has advantages, such as the fact that it’s a U.S. territory, uses the dollar and has an abundance of English speakers.
“In some ways, it’s difficult to compete with them. ... The Dominican Republic has developed, but we’re often a stand-in for Cuba,” said Pérez, who was an extra in Godfather II. “The key to our next step is that the Dominican Republic has to start selling itself as its own destination.”
Miami Herald Caribbean Correspondent Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.