‘Yellowstone’ TV: How the State of Utah Lost Out on the Show Filming There

by Kayla Zadel
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Utah is having its own battle of sorts when it comes to trying to bring the hit TV series, “Yellowstone” back to the Beehive State. The Paramount Network series highlights the Mountain West elite, who are perpetually locked in a land battle. However, this real-life instance in Utah pits government officials against one another.

But why did the western drama series starring Kevin Costner leave in the first place? Well, like they say, “money makes the world go-round.” And it was money that lured the show away to film in Montana.

Montana offers a bigger tax incentive than Utah does. Utah’s tax incentive program stops at $8.29 million a year total, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. And in the film industry, incentives factor heavily into the production planning process. Montana’s tax incentive program provides rebates at anywhere from 20% of production costs ranging up to 35% of costs. What’s more, the Montana legislature just passed a new $10 million tax credit for productions filming in the state.

Utah Fighting to Get ‘Yellowstone’ Back

The fourth installment of “Yellowstone” was filmed in totality in Montana. Whereas before, the show would split time between the Big Sky State and Utah. In fact, seasons 1-3 were filmed in 20 different locations.

One Utah Senator is proposing a bill that would hopefully bring the series back to the Beehive State. Deseret News reports say the document, named SB167, would increase the maximum tax credit the Governor’s Office of Economic Development can award to a motion picture during a year from $6.7 million to $15 million. The bill would cost $8.2 million in ongoing funding from the education fund.

Bill sponsor Sen. Ronald Winterton started looking into the running the bill when “Yellowstone” stopped filming in Utah last year.

“This is money that left our state and went to Montana,” Winterton said.

Winterton says the filming of seasons 1 and 2 brought $35 million and $40 million per year in local spending to his district in rural Duchesne County and surrounding areas. It brought “immediate and significant support” to the rural area, especially to the ranching operations.

The publication says in Utah, the incentives are given as rebates and credits only after film companies demonstrate they spent a certain amount of money in the state.

“We’re talking about filming crews, we’re talking about support crews — they spend money at our hotels, restaurants, retail, transportation, vendors. They bring in a large sum of money that continues to revitalize these cities. They increase the profile of the state,” Winterton said. He continues to say that tourists also visit because they see Utah on film.

Not Everyone Wants the Show Back

While all those flashy statistics and big dollar signs might woo some, they certainly don’t work on everyone. Sen. Dan McMcay says he watched the show and noted both nudity and violence.

“I’m not a huge fan as I was watching the show, to not find Utah mentioned once,” McCay says. What’s more, the lawmaker believes that “Yellowstone” has finally found its “right” home.

“We have a production company that decides it wants to take a show about Montana to film in Montana,” McCay said. “It seems like they’re in the right place.”

“If a show wants to come here about Utah and make a show about Utah and Utah farmers, and Utah issues, and rural Utah and the beauty we have to offer a state,” McCay said, they should consider offering incentives to them instead.

Outsider.com