By David Zurawik
The Baltimore Sun
12:13 PM EST, January 5, 2012
"House of Cards," a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher, will be filmed in Baltimore starting this spring, it was confirmed Thursday by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The production, which involves 13 one-hour episodes for television, comes from Media Rights Capital and Netflix and is expected to launch the company known primarily for DVD distribution as a major creator of original dramatic programming. Netflix, which has more than 20 million subscribers, outbid such traditional producers of quality TV drama as HBO and AMC for the rights.
The series, which has been described as a $100 million project in Hollywood trade publications, will be a remake of an acclaimed 1990 BBC mini-series starring Ian Richardson. The Spacey-Fincher production will be an American version of the story of political scheming and media manipulation.
Fincher, who directed the feature films "The Social Network" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," will direct the pilot. "The Social Network" was also partially filmed in Baltimore.
"House of Cards" will be the third big-name, big-budget politics-themed production to arrive in Maryland during the last year, joining HBO's "VEEP" series, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and the film "Game Change" starring Ed Harris and Julianne Moore.
The two HBO productions are expected to premiere this spring on the premium cable channel. Incentives from the state played an important role in bringing all three productions to Maryland.
TV and film production in Maryland disappeared with the end of HBO's "The Wire," and many of the skilled production workers in the area had to go on location to other states to find work in recent years -- until the arrival of "VEEP" and "Game Change," which not only put local actors and production workers back on the job, but provided contracts for small area businesses that provided everything from scenery to set decorations and food to the visiting filmmakers.
“We are extremely pleased that filmmakers of this caliber have chosen Maryland as the location for this series,” said O’Malley. “The production is estimated to have a $75 million economic impact and is projected to create over 2,000 jobs for local crew, actors and extras and support hundreds of Maryland businesses.”
"Our office has been in discussions with the studio about "House of Cards" for over a year, and this announcement is a result of the efforts and our partnership with the Baltimore City Film Office, the Maryland Film Industry Coalition, local film industry unions and county officials in the Baltimore region," said Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office.
News of the production was hailed at City Hall Thursday.
“We are thrilled to welcome another quality television series to Baltimore. When a project like this comes to the city, jobs are created, small businesses are supported and the economic impact is enormous," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
“The film industry is returning to Baltimore thanks to the Maryland Film Production Employment Act," said Debbie Donaldson Dorsey, director of the Baltimore Film Office and secretary of the Maryland Film Industry Coalition. "The new incentive program went to work immediately, bringing two impressive television series to Maryland - creating thousands of jobs and massive economic impact.
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