Movie Execs Decry Cuts to Incentives; Georgia's Film Industry Will Be Lost to Other States, They Warn

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Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - The Capitol didn't attract the glitz of Sunday's Oscars, but Tuesday's legislative hearing did feature a lineup of blockbuster studio executives, all warning that Georgia's movie industry could disappear.

Executives from NBC Universal, Turner Broadcasting, EUE Screen Gems and Tyler Perry Studios joined with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Motion Picture Association of America in testifying before the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee. All argued that repealing the package of tax incentives that recently lured studios to Georgia will send them away just as quickly.

Just the news that a panel of economists and business executives recommended in January doing away with the incentives as part of a sweeping tax overhaul has spooked some Hollywood producers and their accountants, the witnesses said.

"In short, my phone has all but stopped ringing," said Steve Mensch, director of director of strategic production partnerships and studio operations at Turner Broadcasting.

Committee Chairman Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, said he held the hearing to ensure his colleagues understood the potential loss.

Since 2008, Georgia has developed more than $1 billion in movie business and created the equivalent of 12,000 full-time jobs. The $140 million that the state gave up in the tax credits turned into $148 million in state and local taxes paid from vendors and employees, according to Warren Nimchuk, an accounting analyst with Meyers Norris Penny. …