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The Economic Impact of “Yellowstone”

As we wrap up the biggest CRE stories of 2020, we had to include a story that was impossible to miss: the hit TV show “Yellowstone” relocating to Montana. It was our most viral deal of the year – and for good reason. 

For the first few seasons, filming for the hit TV show “Yellowstone” occasionally took place in Montana. Most often, the show was shot in Utah. However, production HQ moved to the Missoula Valley full time in 2020. 

And while some locals expressed glee, others bemoaned what they saw as the further discovery of the Last Best Place. But no matter your outlook, the economic infusion brought about by “Yellowstone” was sorely needed in 2020. That’s especially as tourism spending plummeted across the state

The Missoulian reported that over three seasons, production spent nearly $80 million while filming in Utah. Montana has already seen a fair share of production-related revenue. Casting extras, hiring security, renting facilities, and frequenting hospitality establishments were all part of the boon brought about by “Yellowstone.”

“Spending from film and television productions touches many Montana-based industries, as these industries supply the means needed to run a production. Cast and crew members eat at restaurants, shop at local businesses, stay in hotels, and procure goods and services from local vendors.” – report on the economic impact of film production in Montana

Casting calls for extras posted a daily rate of $121, plus $35 for gas to transport to the site. (A COVID test was required and also a cost covered by the production). As unemployment rose, so did interest in playing a background role on “Yellowstone. Although, it’s unclear how much of the interest was driven by getting an in-person glimpse of Rip.  

You can read more about what Sterling CRE Advisors learned in leasing the unique facilities to the production team here. In part, tall ceilings and speciality soundproofing were key needs of such an expansive production. 

Why Montana?

What brings one of TV’s most successful shows to Montana? Why venture off the beaten path when most folks will believe that any mountain in a TV show or film could be a Montana peak? In large part, it’s the MEDIA Act. The MEDIA Act is a piece of legislation that entices films and TV shows to shoot in Montana. 

Find the full list of incentives here. Get our more in-depth look at the MEDIA Act here

All up, “Yellowstone” certainly isn’t the last production space that Montana will see. The Yellowstone Film Ranch (unrelated to the show “Yellowstone”) and a projected $20 million Montana MEDIA Hub are part of the rapidly growing film landscape in Montana.