With a crew of 351 staying at local hotels, eating at local restaurants and shopping at local stores, Netflix’s “Bird Box” production spent $901,891 in Del Norte County earlier this year, according to numbers recently released by the California Film Commission.
While the vast majority was spent in Del Norte County, makers of the post-apocalyptic thriller starring Sandra Bullock also spent $96,000 in Humboldt County, making for a total of $997,892 spent in both counties, according to a press release from the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission.
“This one is especially exciting because they filmed during our off-peak season when we don’t usually experience tourism of this size,” Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine said in a written statement. “When using the multiplier, the economic impact to our region nearly triples to $2,943,781.”
“Bird Box” spent three weeks in January and February filming throughout Del Norte County, including Crescent City, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and on the Smith River, according to the film commission. The film, adapted from writer-singer Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel, was also shot in Los Angeles and is expected to be released on Netflix in December, according to the film commission.
The “Bird Box” production also hired 25 local residents to act as production assistants, according to the film commission. According to the commission, it’s often an advantage to the production crew to hire locals since they know the area and also know how to work with different aspects of the community.
Some of the shops and restaurants the crew frequented while in Del Norte included Wild Rivers Market, Vita Cucina, SeaQuake, North Coast Grill and Northwoods Public House, according to the film commission. Hesseltine said Friday that information was passed on to the commission from the “Bird Box” production.
Many restaurants were open extra hours or on days they would normally be closed to the public to accommodate the crew, according to the press release.
Del Norte County Supervisor Lori Cowan, who runs North Coast Grill, said it was primarily “Bird Box”s working crew that visited the restaurant regularly.
“I was working with some of the producers early on in December and January setting things up,” she said. “I was one of the restaurants they asked to stay open later and on different days than we normally would be.”
However, Cowan said, that wasn’t beneficial to the restaurant as the crew didn’t stop by later at night, but they became regulars during the day.
Sarah Caron, executive director of the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce, said the amount of money “Bird Box” generated while in the area says a lot about Del Norte’s potential. As the newest member on the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission board, Caron said she’s looking forward to advocate for more movies, documentaries and other productions to visit the area.
“All of the business owners and restaurants and hotels were so supportive and accommodating to the film crew and to the celebrities that our community really showed the film industry what Del Norte County has and the hospitality that we can offer,” Caron said.
Caron also noted that the increase in the transient occupancy tax from the “Bird Box” crew staying in local hotels will be used to benefit “all of Del Norte County.”
According to the film commission’s press release, “Bird Box” received tax credits from the Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0, which provides incentives for eligible productions produced in California.
This program was created about 10 years ago as a way of discouraging movies, TV shows and other productions from leaving the state to take advantage of rebates and other financial benefits of filming elsewhere, according to Hesseltine.
In addition to “Bird Box,” the 2016 independent film “Swiss Army Man” and the 2018 Disney adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time” took advantage of the tax credit program to film in the Redwood Region, according to the film commission.
Hesseltine said between 20 and 25 productions, including commercials, reality TV and photo shoots, are shot in the Redwood Region each year. However, the area didn’t always get three feature films in three years, she said.
“Having three movies, one a year, come up to our area shows that (the tax incentive) is working,” she said, adding that the California legislature will vote on a new tax incentive program. “Obviously we’re supporting it because we’ve directly benefited by having these productions come to our area. They could have filmed somewhere else if we didn’t have this program.”
According to the film commission, “A Wrinkle in Time” spent about $498,000 filming for five days in Humboldt County, including at Sequoia Park in Eureka and at Patrick’s Point State Park. This made for an economic impact to the community of nearly $1.5 million, according to the film commission.
“Swiss Army Man” spent $83,200, according to Hesseltine.
Cowan said she’d be curious to see how “Bird Box” benefits Del Norte County in other ways. She predicts that many members of the crew will come back and visit, bringing their families with them.
“It’s going to be interesting as the months go on how many pop their head (in) and say ‘Oh, we came back,’” Cowan said. “That’s what’s going to help us. We know they went back to LA saying we found this great place.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .