ATLANTA (AP) — The British film studio that's home to the James Bond movie franchise announced plans Monday for its first U.S. film production facility, at a site near Atlanta.
The large-scale film complex will be called Pinewood Atlanta, and Pinewood will manage the facility under an agreement with a group of private investors. Plans call for the studio to be developed on 288 acres south of Atlanta in Fayette County and initially include at least five soundstages as well as production offices.
"Today's agreement is another step forward for the Pinewood brand internationally," said Ivan Dunleavy, CEO of Pinewood Shepperton PLC, which has studios in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany and Malaysia. Recent films shot at Pinewood Studios, based outside of London, include the coming Angelina Jolie film, "Maleficent," and "Jack Ryan," directed by Kenneth Branagh.
"This new studio will target US productions. Georgia has excellent fiscal and tax credit incentives as well as a great crew base," Dunleavy added.
It's the fifth major studio development or expansion announced in Georgia in recent months. Last week, Atlanta-based developer Jacoby Development said it would build an estimated $1 billion multi-use project north of Atlanta that will include 12 soundstages as well as production offices and an arts and media school aimed at training the next generation of film industry employees.
The Pinewood project is a coup for Georgia and opens the state to major, big-budget films that need large studio space. While Pinewood Studios has an office in Los Angeles, it chose the Southeast for its first U.S. production facility.
Although California has numerous soundstages, not many have been built in recent years as the state has grappled with the effects of runaway production and the lagging economy. A survey last year found California lost $3 billion in wages from 2004 to 2011 because of film and TV production moving to other states and countries, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Half the wages went to states, including Georgia, that offer tax incentives and rebates to the industry. Other states included New York, Louisiana and North Carolina.
"Pinewood Atlanta's location will contribute significantly to Georgia's growing reputation as a top draw for movie and television productions," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said. "We welcome the business this world-renowned company will bring to the state and the jobs it will create for our crew base and supporting companies."
Last year, productions filmed in Georgia generated an estimated $3.1 billion in economic activity, a 29 percent increase from the year before. TV shows such as AMC's "The Walking Dead" film in Georgia, and recently "The Hunger Games" sequel wrapped up in locations around Atlanta.
While studio developers building soundstages are not eligible for the state's generous tax credit program, the production companies making films are. Georgia currently provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production in the state, either in a single production or on multiple projects. Georgia also grants an additional 10 percent tax credit if the finished project includes a state promotional logo.