'Ride Along' for Georgia's film boom - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

'Ride Along' for Georgia's film boom

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Georgia's film boom just keeps growing. More movies and bigger name actors are placing our state in the top five destinations to shoot a film. In the last year, films pumped $3.3 billion into the economy.

Stars receive a warm welcome in Georgia.

"The hospitality is off the chain, so we love doing Atlanta. I love working here," Ice Cube said.

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart star in the about to be released Ride Along, an action-comedy set in Atlanta. Ice Cube portrays an Atlanta police officer, Hart a security guard trying to prove he's worthy of marrying Cube's sister.

CBS Atlanta went for a "ride along" with the stars and Atlanta-based producer Will Packer.

"This is where we shot the opening scene of Ride Along. Underground was great because it gives you a different look, that's what you're looking for as a filmmaker," Packer said.

That versatility is what the stars say stands out about shooting in the Peach State.

"Atlanta you can shoot and make it look like any city. Atlanta has it's strong metropolitan areas, it's strong rural areas, has different flavors, people from all over," Ice Cube said. 

Ride Along really shows off the Capital of the South.

"Ride Along is iconic Atlanta. You will see a lot of Atlanta represented in it which drives business because other production companies will come here when you see how good the city looks," Packer said.

All of that translates into dollar signs for the state. To put it in perspective: It took almost 40 years to earn $7 billion from filmmaking in Georgia. But films have pumped that same amount into our economy in just the past two years. Why the sudden increase?

"Because of the Georgia tax incentive, this is a very attractive market," Packer said.

Filmmakers can receive anywhere from a 20 percent to 30 percent tax break, an incentive signed by former Gov. Sonny Perdue. And when you're working with an average budget per film of close to $42 million, that adds up.

Films also put local Atlantans to work. Each one employs anywhere from 150 to 250 temps, while thousands more work full-time supporting the film industry.

Even our "ride along" by Atlanta Movie Tours is a result of the film boom. The company formed in 2012 because of the demand.

"We've had over 5,000 people tour with us, three tours that run right now," said Carrie Sagel Burns.

The signs of Hollywood of the South don't seem to be slowing down.

"When I'm trying to determine where to shoot, Atlanta is always at the top of the list. Atlanta's a great market," Packer said.

Other states have had film booms go bust. Experts say it is too soon to say what will happen in Georgia.  While it appears the Peach State is reaping the rewards with studios building here, others argue the benefits that come with the tax incentive do not outweigh the tax dollars the state spends.

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