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Florida's Film Incentives: The Next Hollywood Reboot?

Bad Boys for Life poster
Bad Boys for Life, which opened January 17, is set in Miami. A few scenes were filmed in the city but most of the movie was made in Atlanta because of Georgia's film incentive program. SONY PICTURES

State Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, says Florida should do more to attract film and TV productions.

Gruters has sponsored a bill (SB 530) that would allow studios to get a rebate on some of the expenses they incur while filming in Florida. Productions would have to hire a Florida-based crew and spend 70 percent of their production time in the state to be eligible.

“These are not jobs that are low wage,” Gruters told a Senate committee in December. “This bill will set that framework up so Florida can compete long term for these good jobs, so that we can continue to market our state in a way that we could all be proud."

Gruters filed a similar proposal last year, which died at the end of the legislative session.

The state offered production incentives for years, but the program ran out of money in 2014. Since then, many movies and television shows set in Florida have chosen to shoot in Georgia. A 30 percent tax credit has turned the state into an entertainment powerhouse. But a recent state audit found the economic impact is inflated. Since most production companies are based in New York or Los Angeles, money generated by the tax credit doesn’t stay in Georgia. Cuts to the program are likely, as Georgia’s governor has ordered state agencies to trim their budgets.  

In the absence of a state program, Hillsborough, Pinellas and other counties now offer their own incentives for film and TV productions.