The third installment of HBO’s crime anthology series True Detective, starring Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali, is scheduled to begin filming in Northwest Arkansas early next year, officials announced on Friday.
The production, with a $70 million budget, is estimated to have an economic impact of at least $100 million, the city of Fayetteville said in a statement.
Chung Tan, the director of economic development for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, said that between 50 and 100 scouters are already in the region taking pictures and talking with business owners to determine where to shoot the popular series.
"It's too soon to tell where they have rented out," Tan said, noting that a courthouse is among the venues sought.
At least 300 people — local actors, extras and a production crew — are expected to be employed as part of the Northwest Arkansas production, according to officials.
“This is a testament to the dedicated teamwork across state agencies and communities to position the state as a choice place to do business,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement.
Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan called True Detective's production "a big win for the city" as well as the region and state as a whole. He referred to it as a driver for the local economy.
"I'm excited because any time you see a major film crew come into a city, that's a lot of people spending money here: staying in our hotels and eating at our restaurants. It really helps the city," Jordan said.
In a statement, Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston said the HBO series "is the largest and most expensive production we’ve ever had in the state.”
“With an estimated year from start to finish, we know that local businesses and vendors will enjoy a boon from the production," Preston said.
Tan said bringing the HBO series to Arkansas took help from economic development officials as well as other leaders like Christopher Crane of the Arkansas Film Commission. Fayetteville residents and business owners pitched in their support, too, she added.
"A lot of our local businesses are making accommodations so that is helpful. Our mayor and his team were really trying to work to gather to come to a 'yes,'" Tan said.
According to a synopsis, the True Detective installment “tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.”
Ali is set to play the lead role of Wayne Hays, an Arkansas State Police detective. Actress Carmen Ejogo will play Amelia Reardon, a school teacher with a connection to two missing children in 1980.
Series creator Nic Pizzolatto, a 2005 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville wrote the majority of the new season. Jeremy Saulnier, who directed the 2015 horror-thriller film Green Room, is a director.
Arkansas Online reported in September that True Detective's third installment was to be set in Northwest Arkansas.
In October, the Fayetteville City Council voted to express intent to support having an episodic network series film in the city. At that time, the series was not named. It had a reported budget of $70 million.
Officials said that, if Fayetteville was chosen, the city would contribute $500,000 over two years to the project as part of an incentive package with the state.
Brandi Hinkle, the AEDC's director of communications, said details regarding actual incentive amounts are not yet available.
"The AEDC programs they qualify for are performance-based, so we won't know the actual amounts they will receive until sometime in the future," Hinkle said. "They will have both state and local assistance."
According to the commission's website, eligible production companies can earn a 20 percent rebate on all qualified production expenditures.
The expenditures include development, preproduction, production or postproduction; the first $500,000 of wages or salaries paid to each resident or nonresident that are subject to Arkansas income taxes; pension, health and welfare contributions; and stipends and living allowances.
An additional 10 percent rebate may be earned on the payroll of below-the-line employees who are full-time Arkansas residents for a total rebate of 30 percent on wages, according to the AEDC.
Below-the-line does not include directors and producers but for purposes of the additional 10 percent, resident actors and writers are defined in such as below-the-line.
The show's production crew was said to be eyeing Fayetteville and an unnamed city in Georgia, Tan said.
Other productions that have been produced in Arkansas include Mud, Greater, Sling Blade and Antiquities as well as God's Not Dead 2 and God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, the latter of which is set to be released in theaters March 30.
"As other production companies see the beauty of our state and hear of the benefits to filming in Arkansas, we can expect to land more series and films,” Arkansas Parks and Tourism Director Kane Webb said.