Oklahoma’s Booming Film Industry Has Texas’ Attention

For a very brief moment, Taylor Sheridan’s hit television series starring Sylvester Stallone had the working title “Kansas City Mob.” But at the time, Missouri had no state funding for film subsidies.

“Tulsa King” was born.

“We had the incentive, so we got the name,” said Rachel Cannon, the founder of Prairie Surf Studios in Oklahoma City, where much of the show’s first season was filmed.

As Oklahoma poured more and more funding into its rebate program, major productions came to collect. The incentives helped attract “Killers of the Flower Moon,” an Oscar nominee for best picture, and the popular television show “Reservation Dogs.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Tulsa King” and “Reservation Dogs” were all filmed in Oklahoma.Credit…AppleTV+; Brian Douglas/Paramount+; Shane Brown/FX and Hulu

Eventually, Oklahoma’s program grew to $30 million, slightly more money on an annual basis than what was being offered in the much larger state of Texas. Famous Texans noticed, successfully urging lawmakers last year to increase funding for the program to $200 million for the next two years, from $45 million. Now, Oklahoma is pursuing legislation that would more than double its offerings.

And that is how the Red River Rivalry spilled over from football to film.

“They’ve got a good thing going,” the actor Dennis Quaid, a Houston native, said in an interview about Oklahoma and its film incentives. “But there’s no reason why competition can’t be healthy for everybody.”

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