Los Angeles used to be a haven for movie magic. However, this summer’s biggest-budget feature films did not shoot in Hollywood.
Despite a significant effort by Los Angeles and state government officials, producers are deciding to make their big budget movies outside of Hollywood. Why? Film productions can get better tax breaks and subsidies.
In fact, Warner Bros. shot Wonder Woman and King Arthur in Britain. Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s movie studio chose to film Alien: Covenant in Australia. Meanwhile, Disney’s Marvel Studios moved its cameras to Georgia for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, which is one of six superhero movies that has filmed near Atlanta.
“The support we get in Georgia is tremendous,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said in an interview. “We’re certainly doing many of our biggest films there well through this year and into next year.”
It is important to note, that nearly three decades ago, virtually all big-budget movies filmed in Los Angeles, California. However, to build an entertainment industry, locations across the United States and around the world have launched tax credits of up to 40 percent of local production spending, which an add up to a lot of money especially considering some movies cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make.
32 states and several foreign countries currently offer tax credits and other benefits to producers. In fact, the former Soviet state of Georgia provides producers opportunities to blow up old buildings.
“We have many derelict, abandoned small villages or factories. They are mostly state-owned still, and you can easily just blow (them) up,” said Sophie Bendiashvili, head of the country’s film rebate program, at a conference last month hosted by the Association of Film Commissioners International.
That said, California is working hard to bring back their dying film industry. In 2014, the state increased their film tax incentives. Currently, California offers a 20 percent film tax credit for movies, applicable to $100 million in spending
Many TV shows moved to Los Angeles. For example, Dwayne Johnson’s HBO series Ballers moved from Miami to Los Angeles after securing a tax break from California. The action star said he wants to film his major movies in California as well.
“On the TV side, the incentives are fantastic,” Johnson said in an interview. “On the film side, there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Now, Johnson’s latest movie Baywatch shot scenes on Tybee Island, Georgia and in parts of Atlanta, with the help of tax credits. Since business is booming in Georgia, Georgia companies have developed state-of-the-art production facilities. “You have to think of these productions as three-legged stools,” said Mary Ann Hughes, Disney’s vice president of film production planning. “You need a local crew base, local infrastructure, and the production incentives.”
Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time received $18 million credit for spending $85 million, and an untitled Paramount movie was awarded $22 million for spending $102 million. But, for many major motion pictures, it is financially irresponsible to film in Los Angeles.