Georgia state officials are investigating after an anonymous whistleblower came forward with allegations that Warner Bros. improperly claimed more than $600,000 in Georgia tax credits for work on the movie “Sully,” the industry publication Variety reported.
The 2016 film, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as heroic pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, did indeed film in Georgia. Eastwood and Hanks were spotted hanging out at a downtown Atlanta bar during the production’s work here.
The allegations contained in the Variety report focus on a specific piece of equipment the whistleblower said was not actually in Georgia. The unnamed informant provided Variety with invoices and contracts that purport to show the equipment in question was elsewhere, the publication said.
A Warner Bros. spokesman told Variety the claims are not true and the studio wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize things in film-friendly Georgia. The Georgia State Attorney’s office tells the AJC that the matter has been referred to the Department of Revenue, while the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the state agency of which the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office is part, declined to comment.
“Sully” had an estimated budget of $60 million, and its box office haul exceeded $125 million, according to data from Box Office Mojo.
Georgia’s enticing tax policies, offering up to a 30 percent tax credit to filmmakers, have created the state’s booming film industry – something state officials love to tout.
“I am excited by the success of this industry,” Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said at the 2017 Georgia Film Day, an annual event held during the legislative session. “As long as I sit in that office, there will be no bigger fan of that tax credit and this industry than I am.”
At this year’s Film Day event, the crowd that packed the Capitol rotunda area enjoyed a video highlighting everyday Georgians who work in the industry, and cheered a robust economic report – 320 feature films, television movies and series, commercials and music videos were shot in Georgia in 2017 and projects during fiscal year 2017 generated an economic impact of more than $9.5 billion, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“No other film production center has seen more growth in infrastructure than Georgia has over the last eight years,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Gov. (Nathan) Deal’s leadership and unwavering support has ensured Georgia’s place as a top destination for film and television activity.”
A 2017 industry study named Georgia the world’s top filming location for big-budget domestic films.
A request for comment from the state’s film commission and other officials regarding the allegations involving “Sully,” have not been answered yet.
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