Iron Man 3 – one of the most expensive films to ever come out of North Carolina – hit theaters Friday. It received $20 million in state incentives and lawmakers are now debating a bill that would remove the state's film tax credit – the same credit that brought the Iron Man 3 production to the state.
In one scene, Robert Downey Jr. - or Iron Man – jumps out of an airplane to save a falling flight attendant.
Iron Man 3 was filmed in Wilmington with the help of a $20 million state incentive. Overall, film production companies expect to receive $69 million in cash refunds from the state this year.
Now, there's a debate going on in the General Assembly of whether these film incentives are worth it. Critics say these film projects don't provide sustainable employment because the jobs end once production concludes.
In the case of Iron Man 3, the Motion Picture Association of America says North Carolina got a good return on its investment. It says the production companies spent more than $100 million in the state and generated business for more than 700 vendors.
While North Carolina is a nice place to film, Johnny Griffin of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission says the production companies won't come without incentives. It's not the location that draws them. It's the money.
"It is a business, just like any other," Griffin says. "And so you're looking to be able to manufacture that product in the most cost-effective way that you can. And if that means reducing the cost of business through incentives, then that's part of the deciding factor."
The bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee.