Hollywood Studios Face ESG Test in Atlanta over Proposed Forest Clearing

Posted on 07/07/2021

The State of Georgia has attracted Hollywood and media streamer giants like Netflix and Amazon Studios (Amazon.com, Inc.). Georgia has tax incentives for filming.

Founded by Ryan Millsap, Blackhall Studios hosts some of the largest Hollywood productions in Georgia in recent times. Blackhall is one of the largest production studios in Georgia. The sound stages produce more than US$ 500 million worth of content annually. Shows filmed in Blackhall Studios include “Lovecraft Country” on HBO and movies such as “Doctor Sleep” and “Venom”. Blackhall Studios plans to build new sound stages on 200 acres of natural forest in Dekalb county (just outside of Atlanta). Environmental groups such as the South River Watershed Alliance, a Section 501(c) (3) charitable organization, is protesting the studio expansion, which would cut down trees and increasing the carbon footprint. According to South River Watershed Alliance’s website, they state, “Intrenchment Creek Park (ICP) is a beautiful 136 acre public park in south DeKalb County, inside Atlanta’s I-285. The park’s tree canopy, wetlands and floodplain work together to protect the South River’s largest urban tributary, Intrenchment Creek. The creek and river depend on ICP for improved water quality and protection from destructive stormwater runoff.

Forty acres of ICP, including urban forest, have been traded to a private developer via a land swap between DeKalb County and Blackhall Studios. This swap sets the precedent that puts every public park in DeKalb County at risk of private development.”

Millsap invested US$ 75 million in the current facility. Last summer, Ryan Millsap completed the controversial land swap needed to expand the studio complex in Atlanta.

In April 2021, Blackhall Studios was sold to Los Angeles-based private equity firm Commonwealth Group for US$ 120 million.

Increasingly, institutional investors are concerned with ESG. Environmental concerns are at risk since many of these listed companies like Amazon use studios to film movies and shows.

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