Killing Film Tax Credits Won’t Kill ‘Wahlburgers,’ A&E Says

–Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe

Ending generous film tax credits may drive other productions out of Massachusetts — but not Wahlburgers.

That’s the word from the A&E network, which airs the reality series featuring chef Paul Wahlberg and his famous brothers Mark and Donnie. Both the Department of Revenue and tax credit proponents agree that most productions will exit the state if Gov. Charlie Baker succeeds in ending the incentives. But Wahlburgers is staying, A&E told Boston.com.

“This is a real show based in Massachusetts so it couldn’t be filmed anywhere else,’’ network spokesman Dan Silberman said. “The show will not end.’’

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That’s good news for Wahlburgers fans and the restaurant itself, which told Boston.com that the increase in its business after the show began was “significant and immediate.’’

It may also bode well for the restaurant’s ambitious expansion plans. In the next few years, Wahlburgers intends to open three new locations in Las Vegas, five around Philadelphia, seven in Florida, 20 in New York City, and two in the Boston area. A Wahlburgers in Toronto opened last November. It’s possible that, one day, we will live in a country with 300 Wahlburgers.

Toronto offers its own film incentives, which could be a motive for the show to shoot there more often. (The Season 3 finale, which aired March 4, went to Toronto for the grand opening of the new restaurant.) If that filming takes away from time in this state, that could potentially reduce the number of jobs and spending the production provides locally.

Because Wahlburgers is a relatively new production, the Department of Revenue has not released figures on how much the show may have contributed to the state’s economy or how much in tax credits it has generated so far. (DOR reports tend to be released long after the year has ended. For instance, the most recent report, which covered 2012, was released in September 2014.)

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Of course, there’s one way the show would stop filming entirely in Massachusetts: If it gets cancelled. But given its solid ratings for the network so far (it averaged 2.3 million total viewers in Season 3, 1.4 million of which were in the key age 18-49 demographic, A&E said), that’s unlikely to happen for a while.

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