World premiere of ‘The Infiltrator’ lets Tampa Bay strut its stuff

July 6, 2016

Margie Manning | Tampa Bay Business Journal

Lead actors from “Breaking Bad” and “Law and Order” take top billing on the screen credits, but the Tampa Bay area is among the stars of a new movie, “The Infiltrator,” set for its world premiere tonight at the Tampa Theatre.

The movie, filmed in part in the Bay area in spring 2015, sends a message that the community is a major market for film production, said Dale Gordon, executive director of the Tampa Hillsborough Film & Digital Media Commission.

“This is a great opportunity for us to show Hollywood and the world that we can host and sustain a production of this size,” Gordon said. “This was a nearly $50 million film, and that fact that we as a market could accommodate a film of that magnitude will speak volumes to the industry.”

Tampa Bay Business Journal caught up with Gordon late Tuesday at a pre-screening at the Tampa Theatre. The theater is featured in a scene in the movie, based on a book by Tampa resident Robert Mazur that chronicles his experiences as an undercover U.S. Customs agent inside the Medellin drug cartel.

Stars Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” and Benjamin Bratt, best known for his role in “Law and Order,” along with director Brad Furman, are scheduled to attend the premiere and the red carpet at about 5:15 p.m., with about 800 to 900 Tampa Bay residents joining them for a VIP reception and the movie premiere at 7:30 p.m.

It’s an invitation-only event, with invitations going to businesses that supported the project, including Port Tampa Bay, which offered free production offices; the Epicurean Hotel, which provided lodging for the crew; and University of Tampa, which had film students working on the production.

The business supporters “put their money where their mouth was and said this is an important industry, one we value and one we are going to support,” Gordon told TBBJ in an earlier interview.

Also invited are elected officials from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, as well as the entire Tampa Bay legislative delegation.

State lawmakers have declined to provide funding for film incentives for several years. Hillsborough County provided $250,000 in local incentives, and got a nearly 4-to-1 return on the investment, with the movie having a $957,020 economic impact in the county, a study funded by the commission showed.

Originally, producers wanted to shoot 90 percent of the movie in Tampa, but cut back to filming just 10 percent here in April and May of 2015 because the state film incentives were not available.

That didn’t cut into the impact, Gordon said.

“It shows the wonder of film-making and movie magic. Only 10 percent of the film was filmed here, but it shows off Tampa Bay in an amazing way,” Gordon said.

The movie’s national release date is July 13.