A Georgia Town Basks in Bountiful Filming. The State Pays.

It is no wonder that moviemakers saw potential in Thomasville, Ga., as a stand-in for Main Street U.S.A. Cobblestone streets and mom-and-pop stores speckle the downtown of this city of 18,000 that is caked in red clay soil and nestled among rolling hills.

Just as attractive to some of those producers are Georgia’s lavish filming incentives, which have made Thomasville a cost-effective place to make modest pictures with major stars. Dustin Hoffman came for the rom-com “Sam & Kate.” A children’s book adaptation, “The Tiger Rising,” brought Dennis Quaid and Queen Latifah to town.

But what is good on the ground for local economies — Thomasville says each of the six movies filmed there has provided an economic boost of about $1 million — can simultaneously be a drain on state coffers.

Some Georgia lawmakers wondered whether it might be wise to put some limits on an uncapped tax incentive program that has given billions of dollars to Hollywood studios, scrambling this week in hopes of passing a bill that would modify the program.

Stuffy meetings about abstract budget crunching can feel like distant concerns in Thomasville, a bastion for quail hunters that is much closer to Tallahassee, Fla., than to Atlanta. To residents, the evidence that the state’s film subsidies are a boon to business is as clear as day.

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