A chunk of Donna Tartt’s 2013 best-selling novel The Goldfinch was set in Las Vegas. She worked hard to achieve an authenticity of place—even living here for a while—and it paid off with a Pulitzer Prize.
Now, the book is being turned into a Warner Bros. and Amazon Studios film starring Nicole Kidman, Ansel Elgort, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright and Luke Wilson. You’d think Las Vegas would be the natural choice for filming, but production is about to wrap in Albuquerque. Why?
“It’s not unusual for films set in Las Vegas to be filmed elsewhere. It happens,” says Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office. He points out that Montreal often subs for New York City. “Why this particular production didn’t reach out to us? There are so many factors.” Everything from personal relationships to timing to state incentives comes into play. New Mexico offers 25 to 35 percent film tax credits, while Nevada’s are about 10 percent less generous. Often, Strip casinos will turn down filming requests because it doesn’t fit their brand.
Meanwhile, the number of film permits issued here is rising each year. “We’re doing our best to attract as many films as we can,” Preiss says. “By virtue of it being Las Vegas, we get a lot of film activity.”