JUNEAU -- Legislators looking to kill Alaska's film subsidy program have driven away the big-budget Hollywood movie Hunter Killer and may have brought a halt to a burgeoning state industry, critics said.
The Alaska Senate voted 14-6 Monday to end a tax credit program that has paid out tens of millions of dollars aimed at attracting the film and television industries and their associated economic activity to the state.
Hunter Killer, which recently announced Willem Dafoe as one of its leads, was to have been the biggest production ever filmed in Alaska, following on the heels of Drew Barrymore's Big Miracle and the serial killer movie Frozen Ground with Nicolas Cage and Vanessa Hudgens.
Sen. Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) has been the film program's chief proponent and fought its repeal Monday. He said Hunter Killer is no longer going to be filmed in Whittier and would have spent more than $50 million in Alaska.
"What a tragedy the story of Hunter Killer is," Ellis said.
Alaska companies and employees had been lined up to work the production, he said.
Gov. Bill Walker had already suspended issuing new tax credits under the program, and Ellis said there was no reason to formally eliminate the program and prevent it from being resurrected if state finances improve.
"This bill saves no state dollars. All it does is send a very negative message that Alaska is permanently closed for business," Ellis said.