In two weeks, Ben Affleck's "Live By Night" will premiere in theaters across the country, showcasing Ybor City and a piece of Tampa history.
And believe it or not, local leaders aren't that happy about it. That's because filmmakers passed on shooting the movie in Ybor City, instead opting to build a fake set in Georgia. Because of film incentives, it was cheaper to build a set elsewhere.
- Lawmakers in Tallahassee have refused to fund incentives package
- Film commissioner wants state leaders to change stance
- Study shows 'The Infiltrator' pumped money into economy
- Click here to read study, or scroll down
Dale Gordon, Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commissioner, calls it a devastating blow. Gordon again called on state lawmakers to fund a state incentives package to lure major motion pictures to the area.
"It's heartbreaking to know that part of our heritage, part of our story, part of what makes Tampa and Ybor unique, is being told elsewhere," said Gordon.
Georgia offered millions in incentives, making it an easy choice for Affleck and crew to recreate Ybor City and save a bundle in the process.
Do you think Florida should offer economic incentives to lure major motion pictures to our state? @BN9— Erin Maloney (@ErinOnTV) December 30, 2016
Lawmakers in Tallahassee have repeatedly refused to fund an incentives package, after money ran out in 2014.
But Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said local leaders will continue to provide local incentives to bring films to the area. It worked in securing "The Infiltrator," starring Brian Cranston, which filmed here for weeks.
A study conducted by HCP Associates, and provided by the film commission, shows for every dollar the county spent in incentives, it received nearly $4 in return.
The study says the $250,000 incentives package pumped $957,020 back into the local economy.
"Live By Night," though, could have been a game-changer, Hagan said.
"This could have been our version of Dolphin Tale," Hagan said.
He's referring to the blockbuster film that reportedly pumped $1 billion into the local tourism industry and reshaped the Clearwater Aquarium.
Hagan said the county has budgeted nearly $500,000 in incentives to lure projects to town. But filmmakers must meet requirements such as employing local workers and spending the money locally.
Although Affleck didn't film in the real Ybor City, you may see him in the area soon. Leaders are in talks to bring him into town for a VIP screening of the new film, in an effort to boost Ybor tourism.
Even so, leaders like Gordon and Hagan call it a missed opportunity to put "the real" Ybor City back on the silver screen.