Feature Film Production in Georgia Outpaced California Last Year, Study Says

Georgia Illustration - H - 2014
Mark Nerys

The annual FilmL.A. report also showed that the percentage of productions shooting nationally fell to a four-year low.

Seventeen features filmed in Georgia in 2016, meaning the state has outpaced the previous frontrunner, California, as the top location for feature film production.

According to FilmL.A.'s annual Feature Film Study, the U.K. came in as the No. 2 location for filming with 16 features, with Canada taking third place with 13. California was in fourth place with 12 feature productions, while New York and Louisiana were the other top U.S. locations with six productions a piece. 

For this year's study, FilmL.A. changed the way it quantified findings, basing them on the 100 top-grossing movies at the domestic box office. This is compared to years past when the study was conducted using films released by the major U.S. film companies.

Of the California productions, seven were live-action — including SullyHail, Caesar! and Oscar darling La La Land — and five were animated, including MoanaTrolls and Zootopia

The California-shot projects spent approximately $99.5 million in filming and received $12.4 million in tax credits thanks to the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, which was meant to lure more big-budget tentpoles to shoot in the state. Film incentives are the primary reason, the study finds, that productions are flocking to Georgia.

Big productions like the sci-fi movie Passengers, dystopic YA adaptation The 5th Wave and the franchise film Allegiant filmed primarily in Georgia, while Marvel movies such as Captain America: Civil War filmed at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta. The state spent $606 million to fund the tax credits, but $2.02 billion was spent on film and television production.

"California’s incentive has returned some feature projects to the state," the study explains. "In fact, in Los Angeles, on-location feature film production reached an eight-year high in 2016 — but the state’s film incentive program seems optimized for use by a narrow band of feature film projects, with budgets from $40 million to $100 million."

Nationally, filming in the U.S. is also trending downwards with 57 percent of the top 100 films being primarily shot in the country. That is the lowest percentage share in the last four years, with U.S. production share from 2013 to 2015 ranging from 63 to 67 percent.

While California finished fourth in the number of feature film productions, the state still reigns as the world's top hub for production with over $30 billion in production spending, thanks largely to television.