Louisiana Film Forecast: State Film Industry Looking to Gain Momentum in 2019

09:26 April 09, 2019
By: Jeff Boudreaux

When the state of Georgia became the filming capital of the world in 2017, it was a bitter pill to swallow for Louisiana residents who took pride in their state’s entertainment industry. After all, it wasn’t very long ago when Louisiana enjoyed this exact same distinction. However, state lawmakers weren’t satisfied with our status as “Hollywood South” and erroneously claimed that taxpayers were getting the short end of the stick due to the nearly $300 million in tax credits doled out to the entertainment industry on any given year in the first half of the decade. In 2015, the Jindal administration alleviated this by placing a $180 million cap on production incentives, allowing each film only up to a sixth of that amount in tax credits. Furthermore, this amount, which was set aside by the state, was depleted by mid-year 2016!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why blockbusters the likes of Jurassic World and 12 Years a Slave no longer grace us with their presence. Rather, they simply moved three states to the east, to the greener pastures of Georgia and a seemingly unlimited tax incentive program. Instead of New Orleans, the city of Atlanta is now the location of choice for film producers. In 2017, two of the highest-grossing box office hits of all time (Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War) were filmed there. These two films collectively made an impact of over $270 million on Georgia’s economy, affecting an overall state entertainment industry that brought in nearly $10 billion the same year. Please remember those figures the next time Louisiana politicians declare that the risks associated with film tax credits outweigh the benefits. Nevertheless, Louisiana Entertainment has been fortunate to keep itself busy with the long-running hit NCIS: New Orleans; an occasional, acclaimed production such as Green Book (which recently won three Oscars, including Best Picture); several indie films; and location-shooting on the forthcoming Marvel blockbuster Captain Marvel.

Seeking to rectify the now only sporadic use of Louisiana by the film industry, Governor John Bel Edwards met with eight major studios in Hollywood last October. The governor returned home and triumphantly touted that the studios were highly interested in returning to the Pelican State. Unfortunately, with the $180 million cap in place until 2025, it’s likely that filming in Louisiana will continue to be relegated to smaller films, television shows, and supplemental shoots for the foreseeable future. Still, this is very promising news for those of us who miss seeing those ubiquitous and mystifying yellow production signs on our roads! In the meantime, here are 10 productions that have either recently wrapped or are set to shoot within the state of Louisiana in 2019:

Body CamNefarious cops find themselves haunted by an evil spirit in this horror thriller from Paramount. Nat Wolff (Paper Towns) stars alongside Grammy-winning superstar Mary J. Blige. The film is in post-production, and we should expect to see it sometime during the next year.

On Becoming a God in Central Florida—Because central Florida’s tax incentives aren’t as attractive as ours, this YouTube Premium series filmed here beginning in October 2018 and is slated for a 2019 release. Produced by George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, this one-hour black comedy series stars Kirsten Dunst as a woman who becomes embroiled in a cultish Ponzi scheme.

PowerJamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in this sci-fi thriller from Netflix, concerning a drug that alters each person’s body in a different, but remarkably superior way. The film was directed by longtime collaborators Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the team behind 2010’s terrific documentary Catfish and the vastly underrated Nerve (2016). Production began last October.

Synchronic—Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades trilogy) star as New Orleans paramedics who encounter a series of deaths related to an otherworldly psychedelic drug. This sci-fi thriller from XYZ Films began production last November.

The SecretDirected by rom-com specialist Andy Tennant (Sweet Home Alabama, Hitch), the film stars Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas in an adaptation of the popular self-help book that promotes the power of positive thinking. This film is channeling Norman Vincent Peale for a 2019 release, and production wrapped in early December.

Tall GirlNetflix was one of the eight studios that met with Governor Edwards and is bringing us this comedy that began filming in January. Longtime television director Nzingha Stewart (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) will helm her first feature, which follows a high school girl who feels she’s an outcast because of her height.

Queen & SlimDaniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Jodie Turner-Smith (SyFy’s Nightflyers) star as a racially profiled couple who kill a police officer in self-defense and are forced to take it on the lam. This sure-to-be controversial drama from Universal Pictures began production in late January for a November release.

The HuntFrom Universal and Blumhouse productions comes a politically charged action thriller directed by Craig Zobel (Z for Zechariah). With the Blumhouse name attached, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some sort of Purge-like horror element added to the mix. Production began in February, and the film should be released in October.

Looking for AlaskaBased on the book by John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), this Hulu miniseries from Paramount concerns a young man (Charlie Plummer of All the Money in the World) who enters a boarding school and unexpectedly finds love with the title character (Kristine Froseth). Production begins soon.

BillieFrom noted auteur Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler) comes a biopic about one of the all-time jazz greats: singer Billie Holiday. Diana Ross famously portrayed Holiday in 1972’s acclaimed drama Lady Sings the Blues, so it’ll be interesting to see how Daniels’s flair for realism stacks up against it. No cast has been confirmed as of yet, although LaKeith Stanfield and singer Andra Day are rumored. Filming is set to begin in April.

I must admit, this isn’t a bad lineup for a local film industry that was pretty much given up for dead. The oft-mentioned Marvel/Fox property Gambit, starring Channing Tatum and Lizzy Caplan, is listed as being in pre-production and has a tentative release date of March 13, 2020. Will the X-Men spinoff finally start filming in New Orleans? Only time will tell, but we do know that Cloak & Dagger, the locally filmed, popular Marvel series on Freeform, will air its second season in 2019. 

In closing and sticking with Marvel (because it’s tops), I advise anyone who intends on watching Captain Marvel to stick around for the credits. This isn’t just a reminder to see whatever terrific bonus scene the MCU has in store for us concerning the forthcoming Avengers: Endgame (also filmed in Atlanta), but also to take a good look at that Louisiana Entertainment logo near the end of the film. You may have a feeling of pride like I do as it scrolls across the screen, complete with its signature fleur-de-lis. And when you do happen to see it at the end of other films, you can be sure that it signifies great things for our state and a partial return to prominence in an industry that we never should have left in the first place. 

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