Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Movie being filmed in Clearwater boosts local economy, but how much?

CLEARWATER

They're getting ready to shoot a big-time Hollywood movie at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Winter the dolphin is training for it, getting used to having lights and cameras follow her around. They're building an 80,000-gallon pool in the parking lot, courtesy of the filmmakers.

Since the upcoming shooting of Dolphin Tale was announced, the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Commission has been saying that a medium-sized feature film production like this one pumps an estimated $125,000 a day into the local economy.

It's a figure that invites skepticism: 125 grand a day? Seriously?

Some economists think that number is a little high.

"It's a lot high," said University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson. Like several other researchers, he also questions the need for tax incentives that Florida and many other states hand out to movie and TV producers to woo their business.

University of South Florida economist Philip Porter says the state uses a figure of $180 per day per person to estimate what visitors to Florida spend on things like meals, hotels and cabs. "So, either these guys brought 700 people with them or they are buying other things," he said.

But the local film commission defends its estimate of Dolphin Tale's economic benefit. They say it attempts to capture the scope of the filmmakers' spending on everything from lodging to transportation, catering, construction supplies and security.

"They drop cash every day on all kinds of things — food, condo rentals, hotel rooms, rental cars, vans, trucks, camera equipment, paint and nails," said Pinellas film commissioner Jennifer Parramore.

The local film office gets the $125,000-a-day spending estimate from a worldwide trade group, the Association of Film Commissioners International. The AFCI says it uses formulas to calculate how much money different kinds of productions are likely to spend on location. It bases its numbers on an analysis of studio accounting records and other reports.

The $125,000-a-day figure represents each day of principal photography, Parramore said. The formula factors in the lesser spending that occurs before and after that period.

The shooting of Dolphin Tale is scheduled to run from Sept. 27 to mid December. Depending on the number of days the crew shoots during that time period, the production might pump about $9 million into the local economy.

Since the film is about the inspirational story of Winter the dolphin, much of the movie shoot will take place at the aquarium itself. But the filmmakers will soon start securing other locations for various scenes in the movie, Parramore said. "We know they need water scenes and a beach scene and a neighborhood scene."

Rod Irwin, Clearwater's assistant city manager for economic development, notes that the film company, Bottlenose Productions, is leasing the city's vacant Harborview Center as well as office space in downtown Clearwater.

"They're going to have upwards of 80 people working downtown, spending money and putting that into the local economy," he said. "It should have a lot of impact."

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium's chief executive, David Yates, thinks Dolphin Tale will serve as a long-term tourism boost for the aquarium and the entire area.

"This is a family film," he said, "and Clearwater is a family vacation."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

About the movie

Dolphin Tale will be based on the true story of Winter, a young dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap. In the film, a fictional boy named Sawyer befriends the rescued dolphin at an aquarium and rallies people to save her by convincing an eccentric, pioneering doctor to invent a prosthetic tail for her.

Morgan Freeman is in talks to play the doctor. Ashley Judd will play Sawyer's mother. Harry Connick Jr. will play a marine biologist. Winter will portray herself.

Movie being filmed in Clearwater boosts local economy, but how much? 08/13/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 8:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Two Kissimmee police officers shot to death

    News

    KISSIMMEE — Two police officers were shot dead in Kissimmee Friday night, Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire

    Criminal

    PORT RICHEY

    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.