Florida prod’n coin tops $600 mil

MIAMI — A study conducted by the Florida Entertainment Industry Council has found that the state made modest gains in 1996 production, generating a little more than $600 million from television, commercials and feature films, compared with $597 million in 1995.

When 1996 figures are finalized in about two weeks, they’re expected to exceed 1995 by as much as $30 million, said John Reitzammer, executive director of the FEIC, the state’s public-private partnership dedicated to developing the entertainment business.

The slight 1996 gain in production is a far cry from the $145 million jump experienced in 1995 from 1994’s $452 million, Reitzammer acknowledged.

“Last year was a hell of a year,” he said. “It was mind-blowing. But we’re still doing remarkably well compared to other states.”

20 pics on location

Florida ranks No. 3 in production behind California and New York. Films such as “Up Close and Personal,” “The Birdcage” and “Striptease” were among the 20 features shot entirely or in part in the state.

Orlando led in production dollars generated, followed by Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Tampa and Jacksonville.

Currently, the FEIC gets it figures from cities and counties. To better gauge production in the future and avoid possible duplication, the FEIC plans to conduct its own statewide production survey, Reitzammer said.

Gotham plan

With big-budget feature film production down this year, he said the state would place a stronger emphasis on commercial production and independent feature films. The FEIC will open a New York office by April to romance producers and other decisionmakers.

“One of our goals is to become the independent feature capital of the world,” he said.

The office also plans to more aggressively target the Spanish-language media, a market which has contributed substantially to the state’s industry, particularly in Miami.

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