What city immediately comes to mind when you think of the biggest film productions being made each year? Los Angeles? New York? Whilst the East and West coast have traditionally had a strong hold on American cinema, Atlanta, Georgia has slowly become a force to be reckoned with due to its extremely generous tax credits. As a result, Marvel has turned it into their main base of operations: So far producing Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man, nearly wrapping on Spider-Man: Homecoming, and in production on Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 and Avengers: Infinity War.
Yesterday Robert Downey Jr. uploaded a picture to Twitter of him and fellow Marvelleers at a restaurant in Atlanta. Can you name all the Marvel heroes at this table:
From left to right are the Russo Brothers, Tom Holland, Jon Favreau, Downey himself, Roy Choi, and Kevin Feige. The question you may be asking yourself is, who is the guy in the cool backwards cap, and is he appearing in the next Marvel movie?
He is in fact unrelated to Marvel, and a celebrity chef, who collaborated with Favreau as a technical advisor when he made the movie Chef. It seems that he and Jon are working on a new non-Marvel project together. Favreau will return in Homecoming as Happy Hogan, Tony's former bodyguard and now head of security for Stark Industries. No word as of yet as to what Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is up to.
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Atlanta On The Rise
With even a new TV series to its name, 2016 seems to be the most pivotal year in the history of the Atlantan film industry since 1939, when they released Gone With The Wind, still the highest grossing film of all time if you account for ticket inflation. But why has it become so appealing to film there?
Large Tax Breaks
Atlanta is one of ten cities in the USA considered to be an Alpha-World city, meaning that — in an increasingly globalized world — it is a hub of international economic activity. This is largely due to its economic policy which offers large tax incentives to businesses looking to work there. This extends to the film world as well, with extremely generous reasons to set up shop. As it says on Georgia.org:
"Georgia’s Entertainment Industry Investment Act provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production in Georgia, either in a single production or on multiple projects. The state grants an additional 10 percent tax credit if the finished project includes a promotional logo provided by the state."
These tax breaks — which are much more generous than those in California — save Marvel money on their productions, and benefits Atlanta, creating local jobs and providing promotion for the city. An example of this promotion can be seen in this twitter post by Jeremy Renner:
Jeremy Renner has a fun day out, the amusement park Six Flags over Georgia is promoted, and Marvel gets an extra 10% off its productions as a result. This is a win-win situation for everybody.
How This Has Impacted The Political Landscape Of Georgia
Earlier this year, Georgia was embroiled in a row over its homophobic religious liberty bill, which gave companies the right to reject services to homosexuals, and actually dismiss them from work simply on account of their religious beliefs. However, when Disney and Marvel threatened to boycott Georgia if the legislation was passed, the bill was vetoed, as the benefit to the local economy — estimated in 2013 to be just under a billion dollars — was seen as more important than any mistaken, anti-democratic notions of religious rights. This is a great example of Marvel — with a long history of LGBT characters — making a difference in the real world, and not just the shared cinematic universe.
What Other Films and TV Series Are Being Filmed in Georgia?
According to Project Casting, 32 film and TV series are currently being filmed in the Peach State this month, currently making it the third largest film industry in the world, after the United Kingdom (likely to drop after Brexit) and California. This includes reboots of 24 and MacGyver, the bank heist film Finding Steve McQueen, Melissa McCarthy vehicle Life of the Party, Netflix Original series Ozark, and of course the hugely popular The Walking Dead. So as well as helping the Marvel Universe to expand, it has become the new and exciting place to go if you want to produce the next hit blockbuster or series.