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Suspense remains in film tax credit drama

Before the sparse paparazzi corps in Philadelphia got a chance, Brad Pitt slipped through our fingers.

Before the sparse paparazzi corps in Philadelphia got a chance, Brad Pitt slipped through our fingers, according to movie industry insiders this week, who have hinted that the megastar was supposed to shoot scenes for a movie called “World War Z.”

Instead, Paramount Pictures moved on after they found Pennsylvania’s film tax credit program has been frozen until at least March 8 when Gov. Tom Corbett releases his first state budget.

The freeze on what was once a $75 million program just three years ago — but was cut to as low as $42 million in 2009 — affects state industry leaders’ ability to sweet talk Hollywood into coming here.

“We are stopped in our tracks,” Greater Philadelphia Film Office executive director Sharon Pinkenson said yesterday. “Those of us working on tax credit shows across the state are very concerned. ... Everybody knows about this freeze in Pennsylvania. It’s soft money in financing of films. They’ll go where they can complete their budget.”

Those of us working on tax credit shows across the state are very concerned.”

More than 40 states offer tax credits, making for a competitive market, but budget problems across the country have led to Hollywood looking north — to Canadian cities — for shooting scenes, officials have said.

“The first question everyone asks is, ‘what’s up with the tax credit?’” Pinkenson said. “Well, it’s the second question right after, ‘how are you doing?’ Everybody knows about this freeze in Pennsylvania. It’s soft money in the financing of films. They’ll go where they can complete their budget.”

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