Blockbuster! Booming film and tv industry nets $4 billion for Georgia

“Star Wars: The Mandalorian” filming on a virtual set. (Courtesy Disney+/Lucasfilm)

Georgia’s booming film and television industry has set a blockbuster record with $4 billion in direct spending on production in the state for fiscal year 2021.

Steve Weizenecker, Vice Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Film, Music and Digital Entertainment as well as a partner at Barnes & Thornburg, said the figure was “stunning” to see, and said it was directly related to Georgia reopening for productions even before California.

“I don’t think anyone predicted it would be $4 billion,” Weizenecker said. “Shutting everything down and then getting it reopened was quite a process, but all the streaming networks need to fill their pipeline. There is so much demand for new content to fill these channels.”

Weizenecker said the state’s production facilities and soundstages are all booked well into 2022 and he praised the industry for helping to keep COVID numbers low as crews returned to work. He said the positivity rate was below two percent thanks to safety protocol put into place by studios and facilities.

Georgia’s healthy tax incentives, diversity of locations, number of soundstages and talent were all key factors in the state’s continued film and tv growth, Weizenecker said.

Many of the state’s production facilities are looking at or in the process of expanding, such as massive Trilith Studios in Fayette County where the Marvel and Disney films are made.

Elizabeth Olsen filming the finale of Georgia-lensed “WandaVision”. (Courtesy Disney+/Marvel Studios)

With more viewers now hooked on watching at home or on their mobile devices, Weizenecker said the frenzied pace of productions will continue for the foreseeable future.  And the technology and talent diversity will also continue to grow.

“I think you’re going to see more use of virtual sets like they use in ‘The Mandalorian’, where you can literally put the actors anywhere with the new screens technology,” he said. “It’s really amazing.”

Georgia currently has 2.1 million square feet in purpose-built stage space and 3.2 million in retrofitted stage and dedicated warehouse space, according to the state film office.

Production of expanded forms of content like Esports and video games are also expected to grow in Georgia. “There are designers working in the video game industry who are getting offered six figure salaries to come work in the state’s film industry,” Weizenecker said.

In the past year, 366 productions filmed in Georgia, including 21 feature films, 45 independent films, 222 television and episodic productions, 57 commercials, and 21 music videos.

Georgia-lensed productions also racked up the Emmy Award nominations earlier this month, with Disney+ and Marvel Studio’s hit “WandaVision” leading the way with 23 nominations following by HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” Amazon’s “The Underground Railroad” and another Disney/Marvel hit, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”

For a list of Georgia-lensed productions currently in theaters, streaming online, or set to premiere, visit Release Dates for Georgia-Lensed Productions. For some of the more than 50 productions currently filming in the state, visit Now Filming in Georgia.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.