Movie set in Ybor, but shot in GA, premiers in Tampa

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The ticket takers and the guests at the Tampa Theatre, the concessionaires and those who came in costume, all have one thing in common with the movie they were going to see on Tuesday night.

They all have roots in Tampa.

Ben Affleck stars in 'Live by Night,' a two hour feature picture about a mobster in Tampa's Latin quarter of the 1920s.

"I am very excited because of the history of Ybor that it covers," said Shawn Menendez.

But there is still an uneasy feeling, given the movie about Ybor City was shot in Brunswick, GA.

The production team denied an effort by the Tampa Hillsborough Film Commission to get them to film Tampa in Tampa.

Instead, last year, the 300-person crew went to Georgia for six weeks, built an Ybor City mockup, and spent an estimated $4 million at local bars, restaurants and hotels.

Georgia offered a 30 percent tax credit, whereas Florida's film program dried up years ago.

"To sit there and watch it and know it's not the real Ybor City is going to be pretty painful," said Dale Gordon, the head of the film commission.

After a hotly debated study showed communities made only .43 cents back for every dollar in film incentives, state legislators seem set on not funding further incentives of any kind, this year.

The film commission, though, says at least half of the movie is set in Tampa.

"They are still telling a lot of our history, our story, and it continues a lot of the brand development we are doing of Tampa Bay," said Gordon.

About 700 people attended the early showing of the film at the Tampa Theatre. They had a taste in their mouth that wasn't popcorn.

"At first I was a little bummed, but now as the movie gets closer, at least I am glad from the previews it looks like they acknowledge Ybor," said Menendez.

The film opens nationwide on Friday.