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Movie project near Savannah scaled way back

By Matt Kempner, AJC.com Staff Writer

So far, plans for a giant movie complex in Effingham County near Savannah remain on a reality only on paper. MATT KEMPNER / AJC

Plans to build the nation’s largest movie-making complex near Savannah have been slashed, after two years of delays.

The 1,560-acre “Studioplex” planned by Moon River Studios on public land has been reduced to 51 acres under a revised agreement with the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority, according to BusinessInSavannah.com.

The project, initially unveiled two years ago under the name Medient Studios, was supposed to lead to a bounty of jobs, an assembly line of movie productions, sprawling production facilities, hotels, shops, recreation areas, walking trails and a concert amphitheater.

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution detailed serious questions about the project and the long-term financial viability of Moon River’s tiny parent, FONU2.

FONU2 said it has worked out a deal to pay Effingham’s local development authority a sharply lowered annual lease payment for a smaller swath of land, though it will have some access to the entire site to shoot movies, according to the company’s web site.

“Nobody is entirely happy with it,” development authority chief executive John Henry said of the compromise, according to BusinessInSavannah.com. “We’re trying to move forward in good faith.”

The news site quoted FONU2 chairman Jake Shapiro as saying he is “extremely happy” with the new deal.

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