Comic-Con kicks off, ‘Ballers’ and ‘Insecure’ return and more of the week’s top stories.
The Dwanye Johnson football comedy’s exit is a massive blow to the Sunshine State, which is struggling to keep existing projects and lure new ones without an entertainment tax incentives program.
Ballers is leaving Florida for California in its upcoming third season.
The HBO comedy starring Dwayne Johnson is exiting the Sunshine State after filming two seasons in Miami. The move comes as Florida’s film and television tax incentives program expired earlier this year after the state legislature voted down a measure in March to replenish the funds.
Since the government declined to add new monies to the pot, the future of Florida’s once-booming film industry has been unclear. Production spending within the state has plummeted in recent years, down from $366 million in 2011 to $175 million in 2015 in Miami alone. The last of the state’s funding (nearly $300 million was allocated for the program in 2010) went to Ballers and Netflix’s Florida Keys-set drama Bloodline. But it was only enough to last two years, making subsequent seasons of the series a pricer undertaking.
In April, HBO revealed that it would be re-evaluating the situation given the lack of incentives. “We have a long history of shooting projects in Florida and were obviously disappointed in the recent vote to not renew the incentive program. We will be assessing its impact on any future productions like Ballers, who have established Florida as their home,” said the cable network in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. In October, THR broke the news that the upcoming third season of the Kyle Chandler-led Netflix family drama would be its last.
Ballers is the seventh TV series to relocate to California from another state since the film commission expanded its tax incentives program in 2015. Other shows to make the move include Veep from Maryland, American Horror Story and Scream Queens from Louisiana, Mistresses from Vancouver, Secrets and Lies from North Carolina and American Crime from Texas.
Over the course of the 10 episodes it’s scheduled to shoot in the Golden State, the HBO series will employ 135 castmembers, 209 base crewmembers and 5,700 extras. Production is expected to generate an estimated $33.5 million in qualified expenditures (meaning waged paid to below-the-line workers and payments to in-state vendors), which allows the state to give Ballers a conditionally approved tax credit of $8.3 million.
“We’re thrilled to welcome another TV series and the long-term jobs it will create in-state. Our expanded tax credit program was designed to target such projects, and it’s working precisely as intended,” said Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission. “The industry responds very favorably whenever we’re able to level the tax credit playing field.” A total of 22 TV projects — including Westworld, Good Girls Revolt and This Is Us, are currently enrolled in the state’s program.
Florida’s ‘Ballers’ and ‘Bloodline’ aren’t currently in production, but North Carolina’s ‘Underground’ is and could be most affected by the storm.
As Hurricane Matthew inches its way closer to the Southeastern U.S., local productions are readying for the storm. Most regional film offices, however, aren’t too concerned about the storm’s possible impact on film and TV shooting in the area.
The Category 4 hurricane is expected to ride along the U.S. coast from Florida through North Carolina starting Thursday evening and lasting through Saturday.
The production most likely to be affected by the Category 4 hurricane is WGN America’s Underground, which films in Savannah, Georgia. The state’s governor, Nathan Deal, even issued a state of emergency in 13 coastal counties. Sources say they are preparing for the storm and taking precautions to ensure that the cast and crew remain safe — but if the weather proves too severe, production will shut down.
The majority of the other projects shooting in the Peach State film in and around Atlanta. A spokeswoman for the local film office tells The Hollywood Reporter that they don’t expect the hurricane to affect the city very much, and all productions are sticking to schedule.
It’s the same in North Carolina, where a rep for the state’s film commission office says there’s “no effect on production in NC as of this moment in time.” Though Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in more than half of the state’s 100 counties, the film office’s spokesman insists the projects currently shooting in North Carolina are not filming in the highest possible impact area. Two dramas that filmed near the coast in Wilmington — History Channel’s upcoming military drama Six and TNT’s Michelle Dockery vehicle Good Behavior — both wrapped production earlier this year.
And though Florida — which may be hit hardest by the storm — has lost substantial film business recently due to its lack of an incentives program, the state is still home to two major TV series: HBO’s Ballers, which films mostly in Miami, and Netflix’s Bloodline, which shoots further South in the Keys. Fortunately, neither series is currently in production at the moment.