Why Does Hollywood...?

Why do so many movies and TV shows say “Made in Georgia” at the end? – Syn C.

I was looking for a stock image of someone photographing a peach--because that's Georgia's nickname. Instead, this came up...

Atlanta, Georgia, is the latest filmmaking center in a long line of cities trying to be Hollywood’s satellite office. To permenatly cement this status, though, a city and its state must have decades of patience–a timetable that no one seems to have waited out. Inevitably, a state government mucks up the proceedings, causing businesses to pull up their tents and look for greener pastures.

The reason film production companies need to leave Hollywood at all is because of the sheer amount of logistical expenses involved in making a movie or TV show. Since Hollywood has been the center of filmmaking for a century and change, Los Angeles has zero incentive to make filmmaking cheaper or more accommodable. Why offer a sale on snowblowers when it’s snowing outside? As such, productions must often look outside of southern California for areas to shoot.



Were this the ’90s, Minneapolis would’ve been the city de jour for movies to feature. Grumpy Old Men, Fargo, The Mighty Ducks–Minnesota had quite the growing film community. That is, until Canada offered production incentives starting in 1995. Not to be outdone, many U.S. states began offering similar incentives. Minnesota was slow to draw up a plan and never proposed competitive offers. Once Jingle All the Way wrapped production, the Twin Cities was out of big projects, so film crews had to move elsewhere for work.



Used in "Why are so many movies 'Made in Georgia'?" post in Yesterday's News.

Detroit then picked up the slack in the late 2000’s, largely in an effort to get any form of business for the flagging metro. This incentive worked well for the next decade, attracting productions like Transformers, Gran Torino and Batman v. Superman. Michigan’s state leadership changed in 2010, though, and the new governor capped, then erased, spending. Since other states were eager to be next, Hollywood started looking their next big (tax) break.

Also beginning in the late 2000’s was Georgia’s tax incentive program, boosted by the stinging loss of the Ray Charles biopic, which was set in Georgia yet filmed in Louisiana. Separately, Tyler Perry’s Madea films (their problematic existence already discussed on this blog) were shot in Atlanta, so the city had a regular crew for movies. 2011’s The Walking Dead, however, brought massive business to the peach state. Wishing to keep the fire burning, Georgia began offering even more tax breaks and rebates as well as promising a less cutthroat show-business environment than Los Angeles or New York. Now, fifteen years later, Tyler Perry studios is one of the largest entertainment campuses on the planet, and The Walking Dead‘s decade-long run has cemented Atlanta as a stable place for crew members to find work…


That is, until 2019, when Georgia passed its controversial “heartbeat” bill regarding abortion. Since the entertainment business is still centered in liberal-leaning Hollywood, many prominent cast and crew members of Atlanta productions vowed to work elsewhere. Today, the Georgia film community is stable, but they took a hit, and further storm clouds could be on the horizon.

Sensing an opening, Albuquerque has made a play to replace Atlanta, offering tempting tax deals and closer proximity to Los Angeles. Some have already taken New Mexico up on the offer, Stranger Things being the most notable example. Meanwhile, both Michigan and Minnesota, realizing what they’ve lost, have made recent efforts to regain ground by refreshing their tax incentive programs. Hopefully Georgia realizes that they’ve got to play by Hollywood’s rules for another decade or so before Atlanta becomes a permanent hub–or else I’m going to be writing this article again… for a different state.


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