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August 02, 2022
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1 big thing: Georgia's filming boom and the abortion issue

Data: The Georgia Film Office; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Georgia's thriving film and TV production business is unlikely to be threatened over the state's stance on abortion rights, Tim writes.

Why it matters: Georgia's extremely generous tax breaks have turned it into a production powerhouse over the past 15 years. That's exactly why it's so hard for Hollywood to decouple from the Peach State when it comes to the abortion issue.

  • It doesn't hurt that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, who has numerous Hollywood backers, has come out against a production boycott, arguing it would only harm workers.

Catch up quick: Last month, a federal appeals court allowed Georgia's ban on abortions after six weeks to take effect. The so-called Heartbeat Bill was passed in 2019 but was struck down in 2020 for two years.

  • Back then, multiple studios threatened to move production to other states over the bill. So far, that hasn't happened.
  • Since the Supreme Court weighed in on Roe, studios and their parent companies have largely been silent, other than to come out against the overturn and to promise to cover abortion-related travel as part of employee health benefits.
  • Many in the industry are pushing for stronger safety protocols for pregnant employees who are working in states that have outlawed or will outlaw abortion.

The big picture: Georgia's tax program is one of the most generous in the country with no annual cap and tax breaks as high as 30%. In 2021, Georgia handed out $1.2 billion in incentives to studios, the most of any state.

By the numbers: Georgia has rebounded well from the early days of the pandemic, when production shutdowns across the industry cut short what was on pace to be a record year for fiscal year 2020, according to the state.

  • It's up more than 50% from the $2.9 billion that was spent in 2019, the last full pre-pandemic fiscal year.
  • The $4.4 billion in production spend in fiscal year 2022 was a record for the state. Production spend is up by more than 47 times since the tax program started in 2008.

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