How Georgia Stole Two Movies from Florida's Film Industry

Ben Affleck The Accountant movie

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Thanks to Georgia's tax incentives, Georgia has just landed another motion picture that was supposed to be set in another state.

According to The Tampa Tribune, Florida has lost to Georgia for the rights to film Chris Evans' new movie Gifted and Ben Affleck's new movie Live By Night.  Directed by Marc Webb of The Amazing Spider-Man movies, Gifted stars Captain America Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer, winner of the 2011 supporting actress Oscar for The Help. Chris Evans Gifted Apparently, St. Petersburg, Florida also had a chance of landing the production, as Ybor City did with Live By Night about rum running in Ybor City during the 1920s and 1930s and directed by and starring Ben Affleck. But, because Florida did not offer the publicly funded financial incentives that Georgia does, Tampa's Latin District was recreated in Brunswick, Georgia, with production expected to begin next month. affleck-live-by-night-656
“I read the ‘Gifted’ script; it takes place in St. Pete,” said Tony Armer, St. Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner. “I talked to the writer. I met with the producers. They all wanted to come here.” Armer added, “It has an Avenger, an A-list director and an Oscar winner. It has a seven-figure budget. The film is no slouch. This is such a shame. It was our film to lose and we lost it.”
“Gifted” screenwriter Tom Flynn also lives in St. Petersburg.
The Florida Legislature allowed for $296 million to film incentives for the period 2010 to 2016, but all of the money was too quickly rewarded and the legislature declined to refill the pot during the past two legislative sessions. Meanwhile, Georgia has no cap on how much the state can allocate per year, which makes Georgia one of the biggest competitors for film and TV productions in the United States.
According to a location scout for the city of Savannah, Georgia Film Office, this makes three productions in the past two years that were originally considered for Tampa because the stories take place there but were later settled on Savannah, Georgia. The other movie was Magic Mike XXL, a sequel to the original movie that was film in Savannah, Georgia.
“I met with a representative from ‘Magic Mike XXL’ about a year and a half ago,” said Dale Gordon, Tampa-Hillsborough Film and Digital Media commissioner. “Their response was, literally, ‘Sorry, Florida, but I can’t even talk to you because you have no money.’”
So why hasn't the Florida legislature allowed for more money to compete with Georgia? Well a 2010 study conducted by the Florida Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research shows the state received just 43 cents back per dollar on tax incentives awarded to productions since 2010. Ultimately, the state loss almost $170 million on the $296 million in incentives.

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