Montana sees $72 million in state spending for ‘Yellowstone’ series

The fourth season of “Yellowstone,” which was filmed near Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley, brought in $72 million in qualified state spending in 2021.

The report produced by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research showed that Montana’s economy with “Yellowstone” generated 527 additional jobs, $25.3 million in annual personal income and $85.8 million dollars in additional gross revenue for Montana businesses and organizations. It also generated $10.6 million in revenue for the state government. The MEDIA Coalition of Montana and the Paramount Network funded the study.

“The production activities of the fourth season of “Yellowstone” in Montana have supported jobs and incomes far beyond its own economic footprint, making Montana’s economy bigger and more prosperous than it is. would have been otherwise,” Bureau director Patrick Barkey said in a statement. Release. “The high-paying nature of production-related jobs and the considerable demand for locally produced goods and services are the main reasons why the economic impacts have been so significant.”

Filming also added 527 additional permanent jobs to the state, not including the 624 Montana residents who were employed during filming as extras. The additional 527 jobs were spread across various industries, including 120 in the film industry itself, 66 in construction, 47 in retail and 85 in the food industry. The average salary for the 527 jobs was $51,171, well above the state average pay per job of $46,020 per year, according to the report. And the 116 Montanese who worked on the show, not counting extras, earned about $3.1 million and worked an average of about 11 40-hour weeks.

The report comes as the Interim Committee on Revenue considers drafting legislation to increase the state’s movie tax credit. Montana is one of more than 30 states that currently offer some form of tax credit to studios in exchange for filming in their states, according to the report.

In 2019, the legislature passed the MEDIA Act, which set the state film tax credit at $10 million. During the last legislative session, House Speaker Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, proposed a deal to eliminate the cap, but by the time the bill was signed into law, the cap had only been raised. to $12 million, and film industry stakeholders say that cap needs to be increased further to maximize the potential of the film industry in Montana.

“We are not asking for a cap; we ask enough to be able to tell Montana stories and live here and make a good living, which is happening. But we’re at that really sweet point where if we go a little higher than those of us (in the business), we can do it all the time,” said Lynn-Wood Fields, owner of the Montana Media Center. , which offers vocational training. to Montananese looking to work in the film industry.

Fields being able to start successful work in the film industry is one of the economic factors not included in the report, she said.

“I am one of those people who are not in the study. But I’m one of those supporting entrepreneurs who benefits from ‘Yellowstone’…and I’ll say that ‘Yellowstone’ season five has really been instrumental in hiring more Montanans into the movies than ever before,” he said. she declared.

Another benefit of filming “Yellowstone” in Montana that was not included in the economic impact study, but was mentioned in the report, was the free publicity Montana receives from the filmed show. in the state.

“The visual representation of our state that increases exposure and awareness of our physical landscape, culture, and history to potentially global audiences. While difficult to quantify, the image of Montana that is projected to mass audiences through film production is arguably important in selling the state as a place to visit or even move to,” the report read.

While the movie industry’s impact on rising housing costs in Montana was not explored in the report, Barkey said anything that increases Montana’s growth could make the problem even worse.

“If housing markets continue to be limited by supply, anything that adds to growth could likely have an impact on prices, but I would say that’s a housing policy issue and not growth in self,” he said. “To put it another way, would you say that an economic downturn is ‘good’ because it could relieve pressure on real estate markets? I will not do it.

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