HBO is keeping quiet, but all signs point to “Ballers” leaving South Florida.
A week after the network stated it was evaluating where the football comedy would shoot its third season, “including an option to stay in Miami,” the show appears to be headed to Los Angeles.
Multiple sources from the South Florida film community, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being penalized, stated the network has ordered local crews to load all of the show’s sets and costumes onto cargo containers, which are being transported to California via tractor-trailers.
By Monday afternoon, a warehouse at 3000 NW 123rd St. in Opa-Locka where the “Ballers” production assets are stored in-between seasons had already been nearly emptied.
HBO declined to address the rumors directly. In a statement provided to the Herald, the network only said, ‘“Ballers’ season 3 production doesn’t start until next year so we are still evaluating how best to serve the series. We will announce our plans when they are finalized.”
Rumors started swirling last month that the show, which stars Dwayne Johnson as a former NFL star turned financial advisor, would not continue to film in Miami after the Florida Legislature declined to replenish the state’s depleted tax-incentive program, which used rebates to lure out-of-town productions.
According to figures provided by the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment, HBO received a tax credit of $3.8 million on expenditures of $19.2 million for the first season of “Ballers,” which was filmed in 2014. Final figures for the second season are not yet available.
California launched an aggressive $330 million annual tax-incentive program in 2015 designed to lure productions that had moved to Georgia, Florida and other locations back to the state. The program generated $1.5 billion in in-state spending during its first fiscal year.
Part of California’s new program includes a tax credit aimed specifically at “Relocating TV Series” for ongoing productions that agree to move to the state after having filmed previous seasons elsewhere. The application window for this tax credit is Nov. 14-29 and allocation letters won’t be issued until Dec. 5. This might explain why HBO officials won’t confirm the show’s West Coast move before their incentives are locked in.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who made a cameo in the season two premiere of “Ballers,” expressed surprise at the news of the move. He says the city had met with the show’s producers to figure out ways to lower production costs, including waiving rental fees for public parks and parking lots.
“They were happy with what we offered,” Regalado says. “It wouldn’t have solved all their problems, but a little here and a little there starts to add up. This whole thing goes back to the philosophy of the State Legislature regarding tax incentives. HBO was disappointed with the decision Florida made.”