How Atlanta Overtook Hollywood
California and especially Hollywood have both long been synonymous with television and film production. However, over the last decade, Georgia — or what some lovingly refer to as the Hollywood of the South — has become a huge force in this lucrative industry. A fun fact to prove our point: in 2018, more major feature films were produced in Georgia than in California. With a portfolio that includes some of the Marvel franchise, The Fast and The Furious franchise, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things as well as Tyler Perry Studios and much more, Georgia is quickly becoming the backdrop for a lot of what we see on our screens. And we couldn’t be prouder, as Georgia natives!
But you’re probably wondering — how did our humble peach state rise to such fame? A great question indeed, and exactly why we’ve decided to write a little overview on the subject. Of course, if it’s in-person interaction with more detail you’re after, get in contact with us or join one of our tours.
It all started in 1972 when the then-governor of Georgia and soon-to-be US president Jimmy Carter created the Georgia film commission as a way of increasing revenue in the state. While Deliverance didn’t skyrocket Georgia to Hollywood heights, it planted a seed that would one day position the state to be an industry leader. Before the introduction of Georgia’s competitive state tax incentives in 2008, the state’s entertainment industry was making around $241 million per year, a small sum compared to the $9.5 billion it made in 2017.
Yet our beloved home state and capital both offer much more than just tax incentives. With suburban areas reminiscent of the 1980s (think Stranger Things), small ghost towns that can turn into a zombie wasteland (think The Walking Dead), and a city that has played New York, LA, Chicago, Paris and Amsterdam, the peach state has grown from a small contender to one of the top dogs in the cinematic world with a portfolio to boast about.
On top of that, Georgia’s temperate climate allows for filming year-round, and it’s more than happy to assist production where possible. For Baby Driver (2017), more than 140 roads in Atlanta were closed to capture the captivating chase scenes. The writer/director Edgar Wright fell so in love with the city that he adapted the script to showcase Atlanta and some of its unique highlights. Now that we think about it, we have had an Edgar on our city tour before! But we can’t claim all the credit for his affection for Atlanta.
While the success of the program is evident in the finances, the rise of the film industry has also meant a lot for black Hollywood. Tyler Perry Studios was acquired in 2015 on a 330-acre plot of land that was the historic site of the Fort McPherson army base. We include a visit to the studio on our Black History and Civil Rights Tour since it does serve as a focal point of black success in Atlanta. Today, it is the largest film production studio in the United States and a perfect match to Georgia’s industry-leading identity. Renowned for its representation of black stories and people, Tyler Perry has brought the culture into the limelight. The opening of the studio in 2019, to us, represented a triumph of social struggle that has existed since long before Dr. King ramped up the fight for equal rights in the 20th-century.
Becoming the Hollywood of the South has allowed both Georgia and Atlanta’s culture and city to rise to new heights. Don’t be surprised if you catch us chatting about our favorite Georgian films while transporting our happy guests around Atlanta — we can’t help but be proud! If you’re looking to explore something specific, why not customize your own experience with us? Whatever it is you’re looking for, we can help you out, guaranteed — just get in contact with us to find out more.