Hollywood A-Listers Are Fleeing California for Nevada and Here’s Why

By: James Dorman | Published: Jun 20, 2024

California is synonymous with the glitz and glamor of the movie business. But there seems to be an exodus of stars away from the hills of Hollywood to new pastures. 

People working in many industries, but notably the movie business, are leaving California and relocating to new states. Nevada is a popular destination.

Mark Wahlberg’s Move to Nevada

Mark Wahlberg is one notable big-name actor to trade California for Nevada, uprooting his whole family and making a new home. He outlined his reasons for doing so in an interview with People.

Mark Wahlberg, his wife and children sit on a boat in the middle of a lake. It looks like a photograph from a family holiday.

Source: Rhea Wahlberg/Instagram

He sees Nevada as a place where his family can thrive and his children can pursue their dreams, from horse riding and basketball to golf. Wahlberg also expressed his desire to be able to “work from home.”


Wahlberg’s ‘Hollywood2.0’

When Wahlberg says he wants to work from home, he is referring to his vision of a “Hollywood 2.0” in the state of Nevada. He pictures a state-of-the-art studio capable of tackling major productions.

A pair of hands hold a movie clapper board with a sandy landscape in the background.

Source: Jakob Owend/Unsplash

If his vision is to come true, he might need a big exodus of talent out of California. But it might not be too difficult to convince the A-list elite to consider a move to Nevada.

He’s Not the First to Make the Move

Mark Wahlberg is hardly the first Hollywood A-lister to ditch California. In the golden age of Hollywood, the infamous producer Howard Hughes famously clung to his Texas residency even while living full-time in California to avoid the stricter tax laws. When he could no longer keep this up, he relocated his operations to Nevada.

Strips of old black camera film on a white tiled floor.

Source: John Moses Bauan/Unsplash

In more recent years, big names like Mike Tyson, Celine Dion and Nicolas Cage have all made a home in Nevada. Celebrities are also ditching California for other states, with Sylvester Stallone making the move to Florida.

California’s Tricky Relationship With Businesses

The reasons for many of these moves out of California are probably multi-faceted. For one, it’s not always one of the friendliest states for businesses.

Low-angled photograph of coconut trees shooting up toward a clear, bright blue sky.

Source: Julian Myles/Unsplash

Tax laws play a big part in this, but so does the fact that California doesn’t have right-to-work laws. This gives unions a lot of power in the state.

California and Unions

Right-to-work laws basically give employees the right to decline union membership without the fear of losing their jobs. With no such laws in California, those who work at a company might have to join a union and pay union dues.

A group of people with picket signs march outside the iconic arched entrance to the Paramount Pictures lot.

Source: Chris Long/Unsplash

Large, strong unions can create huge employee expense spikes for businesses. Union-regulated workforces demand certain amounts of benefits and pay. 


Why Nevada Makes an Attractive Alternative

According to its state legislature, Nevada has a right-to-work law in place. This means that businesses can operate without the fear of unions throwing their weight around.

An empty, two-lane tarmac road goes up and down through red rock formations with a mountain in the background.

Source: Madhu Shesharam/Unsplash

Without the potential costs associated with operating with a union-regulated workforce, this could potentially see a healthier bottom line for Nevada-based businesses. A film industry based in Nevada would also not deal with actions like the extended writer’s strike that hit Hollywood in 2023.


It’s Not Just Movie Stars Leaving California

There seems to have been a general migration out of California for some time, with data indicating that 75,000 people left the state in 2023. This is the second-largest population decline of all U.S. states.

Fairly heavy traffic driving away from the viewer along a highway toward a bridge framing a sunset.

Source: Tamara Menzi/Unsplash

Perhaps more significantly, the Los Angeles Times reports that there is an increased exodus of high-earners. This resulted in a 25% decrease in income tax collection for 2022-23.


Why Are They Making the Move?

The reason that some of the wealthiest residents are leaving California is probably pretty simple – taxes. The Tax Foundation indicates that those earning $1 million or more now pay a staggering 14.4% tax rate — the highest in the U.S.

A piece of white paper popping out the top of a typewriter. Written on the paper in large letters are the words ‘TAX RETURN.’

Source: Markus Winkler/Unsplash

Many wealthy individuals give taxes as their reason for moving. Popular alternative destinations include Texas, Florida and, you guessed it, Nevada, because of the lack of state taxes.


Could the Movie Business Move to Nevada?

With all the benefits of operating in the state, could a “Hollywood 2.0” really be established in Nevada? Well, Wahlberg seems to think so, and he’s putting it out there in the public political discourse.

The entrance to Fremont street in Las Vegas. The sun sets in the background. Buildings are on the right-hand side of the street and tall trees on the left.

Source: Juliana Malta/Unsplash

He is lobbying the Nevada governor to create more tax credits for film and television productions as a first step toward establishing “Hollywood 2.0,” he told CBS’ “The Talk.”


A Lot of Things Are Made Outside of Hollywood Already

This move by Nevada would be nothing new, as there are plenty of other places that offer incentives for television and film productions.

A picture of the skyline of Atlanta, Georgia. The sun sets behind high-rise buildings with freeways in the foreground.

Source: Marianna Smiley/Unsplash

A lot of filming takes place in Georgia, which recently expanded its entertainment tax credit program. Many high-profile productions are filmed on location in the state, including “Stranger Things,” “The Walking Dead” and the much-lauded “Ozark.”


Is Showbusiness Leaving Hollywood?

Individuals and companies in show business moving out of California is nothing new. California taxes can often deter many high earners, and other states offer tax credits and other incentives to make themselves popular locations for filming.

A photograph from up in the Hollywood Hills behind the Hollywood sign looking down toward the city.

Source: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash

But Hollywood remains the heart of the movie industry. It’s synonymous with film and many of the major studios are still headquartered there. Even if Mark Wahlberg realizes his dream of “Hollywood 2.0,” don’t expect to see Nevada take California’s crown as the home of the A-listers.