Despite a writers strike that slowed production in the spring, movie and TV studios still spent $4.1 billion in the state of Georgia over the past fiscal year, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Georgia Film Office.
This is down from a record $4.4 billion for the year ending June 30, 2022, but is the second biggest year in the 15-year history of the generous tax credit that the state introduced in 2008 and opened the floodgates for TV and film production.
“Given the high water mark of post-COVID spending from last year and the disruption this year, we were kind of surprised and impressed how high the numbers are,” said Kelsey Moore, executive director of the Georgia Screen Entertainment Coalition, an advocacy group for the film and television industry in Georgia.
In total, the state hosted 390 qualified films, commercials and music videos for the fiscal year ending June 30 that received the state’s generous film credit, which provides up to 30% of qualified expenses to film and TV producers such as Disney, Lionsgate and Sony.
Among the productions that shot between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, were ABC’s hit freshman drama “Will Trent,” FX’s departing animated series “Archer,” Bravo’s veteran reality show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Fox’s now canceled medical drama “The Resident,” Fox game show “Lego Masters” and BET+’s tense drama “Average Joe.”
Upcoming films and TV series that were shot here during the fiscal year featured a raft of A-list actors.
Netflix was especially active in the state before the writers strike hit May 1 including action comedy “Back in Action” (Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz), sci-fi film “Electric State” (Millie Bobby Brown), Atlanta-based drama “A Man in Full” (Jeff Daniels, Diane Lane), Tyler Perry historical drama “Six Triple Eight” (Kerry Washington), romantic comedy “A Family Affair” (Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron) and opioid crime drama “Pain Hustlers” (Emily Blunt, Chris Evans).
Other offerings included “Bad Boys 4″ (Will Smith, Martin Lawrence), comedy movie “Dear Santa” (Jack Black), Apple TV+’s action comedy “The Family Plan” (Mark Wahlberg), Francis Ford Coppola’s sci-fi flick “Megalopolis” (Adam Driver), Peacock series “Hysteria!” (Julie Bowen), Disney+’s dramatic series “Agatha: Coven of Chaos” (Kathryn Hahn) and Clint Eastwood’s thriller “Juror #2″ (Toni Collette).
“Georgia remains a global leader in film, TV and streaming productions,” said Gov. Brian Kemp in a press release. “Those who benefit most from the significant growth we’ve seen in this industry over the past couple of decades are hardworking Georgians who fill the many behind-the-camera jobs that come with each project.”
Georgia now has the second most soundstage space in the United States behind only California and ahead of New York. And this year, five new major studios have opened or are scheduled to open in Athens (Athena), Atlanta (Electric Owl), Douglasville (Lionsgate), Forest Park (BlueStar) and Doraville (Assembly).
Unfortunately, the timing of this additional square footage has not been fortuitous because the Writers Guild of America went on strike May 1 and the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union followed suit on July 13. Both strikes have shut down almost all scripted production in the state. Even before the writers strike, local studio owners and crew members noticed a slowdown early in the year as producers anticipated a shutdown.
The tax credit has kept the state competitive with Canada, England, New York, New Mexico and California. If a production company such as Netflix spends $30 million in Georgia, the company receives $9 million in state tax credits. If the company doesn’t have a tax load in the state, it can sell the credits to companies or individuals that owe taxes in Georgia.
It’s unclear when the strikes will end but similar to the 2020 pandemic, Georgia is expected to pick up where it left off once actors and writers sign contracts that allow them to get back at work.
“This is a tough announcement to make as we see so many in the film business struggling,” said Moore, whose group includes most of the state’s studios and many related businesses. “Some of our businesses are trying to figure out how to make payroll. But we are confident Georgia will be ready to go as soon as everyone comes to a resolution.”