The producers of the nuclear holocaust film Terminator Salvation, released earlier this year, originally planned to crash a helicopter into a lake in Budapest. But they decided instead to take advantage of New Mexico's film incentives program and make the science-fiction movie right here in the state, much of it at the 28-acre, two-year-old campus of Albuquerque Studios.
A shallow tank on a few acres of flat desert outside the facility became the crash site, monster machines soared over the Rio Grande Gorge, and John Connor (Christian Bale), a future Resistance soldier, rode a motorcycle across the vast mesa west of the Duke City.
Tax rebates, interest-free loans and free use of some state property are luring filmmakers to New Mexico, creating jobs and new sources of revenue. The fourth feature film in the Terminator series was the biggest picture shot in the state last year and one of 44 major TV and film productions made in New Mexico since January 2008.
Albuquerque Studios also are home to the Emmy Award-winning television series Breaking Bad, now in its third season.
But six of its top-of-the-line sound stages built in 2007 and two smaller studios added later are not all fully booked, according to chief operating officer Nick Smerigan. And now he might be getting some competition from a new film studio complex that is expected to break ground this winter on county-owned land off N.M. 14 south of Santa Fe.
That raises the question about whether there is enough demand for another major studio facility in New Mexico.
County officials are gambling there is. State and local officials think so. Lisa Strout, director of the state Film Office, said there's no doubt that Albuquerque Studios has changed the landscape of the film business in New Mexico.
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