When Netflix released the first season of House of Cards all at one time people thought the pay for streaming service was crazy. But it quickly caught on like wildfire and House of Cards became an award winning franchise. Now it seems the show’s production company, Media Rights Capital, could end up in a legal standoff that would be fitting of House of Cards main character, now President, Frank Underwood.
Media Rights Capital has sent a letter to the Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, saying that they were halting production of the show’s third season until they were assured sufficient tax breaks from the state. So far, the Netflix series has received over $10 million in tax breaks to produce the show in Baltimore where production has increased jobs both on the set and in businesses supporting the set. But it seems House of Cards wants more, just like Underwood.
While Media Rights Capital has threatened a standoff by halting production, the State of Maryland has fired back using a tactic that failed miserably almost thirty years ago to the day.
State Delegate William Frick of Montgomery County, has proposed a provision which orders the state to use the right of eminent domain to buy or condemn the property of any company that has claimed $10 million dollars or more against the state’s income tax. This would apply to Media Rights Capital and House of Cards.
Thirty years ago the state legislature proposed the same eminent domain over Bob Irsay, the then owner of the Baltimore Colts. The state of Maryland effectively threatened Irsay and the Colts in hopes that it would keep them in Baltimore. That’s why on March 29, 1984, in the thick of the night sky, Irsay had his team packed up and moved them to Indianapolis. Because this was years before social media, camera phones and even the internet, the move went just about unnoticed until someone had tipped off WJZ Channel 13 in the middle of the night. By that time it was too late, leaving the state and Irsay to battle it out in court while the team moved forward to play in Indianapolis. Today, Irsay’s son Jim is now the team owner and President.
In regards to the parallels between the Colts move and House of Cards, Frick told the Baltimore Sun “We’ll make sure the next set of Mayflower vans are going back empty.”
This may all be in jest though as to formally pass the eminent domain proposal it would need the collaboration of the Maryland State Senate which has actually already approved an increase in the film tax credit.