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Austin economy may reel in $50 million from NBC’s Revolution relocation

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Revolution TV show on NBC
NBC's Revolution will begin filming in Austin this summer. Photo courtesy of NBC
Revolution TV show on NBC
Revolution previously was shot in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of NBC
Revolution TV show on NBC
Revolution TV show on NBC

Austin could get a $50 million economic lift from NBC’s post-apocalyptic show Revolution.

The sci-fi TV series, produced by J.J. Abrams, is set to start filming its second season this summer in Austin. Production is being shifted to Austin from Wilmington, North Carolina.

Gary Bond, director of film marketing for the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, said there’s no “rule of thumb” for calculating the economic impact of Revolution on Austin, but he estimated it could be $50 million to $55 million a year. His guess is based on the $50 million to $55 million in direct spending (not counting indirect trickle-down dollars) generated during the show’s first season of filming in North Carolina.

“I’d expect the Austin total would be similar,” Bond said.

An estimated 200 to 250 local residents will work on the show’s crew during filming of the upcoming season, Bond said. Furthermore, local actors will be cast as extras.

 So far this year, Texas has hosted 16 TV and film projects, with estimated spending of nearly $130 million, according to the Texas Film Commission.

The series is relocating to Austin to take advantage of a broader range of filming locations than were available in North Carolina, according to Bond.

“The show entails a lot of moving about, and with the diverse topography in the Central Texas area, numerous smaller towns that reflect ‘Americana,’ and available urban and rural locations, Austin seems to fill that need,” Bond said. “Austin’s large pool of experienced crew and talent was another consideration.”

TV professionals in Austin are no strangers when it comes to national shows. The most notable example is NBC’s now-canceled drama Friday Night Lights, which called the Austin area home for five seasons.

As Revolution underscores, Austin continues to be a hub for TV and movie production. “Some say it’s the weather, others say it’s the barbecue, but most confirm it’s the depth of talented pros who live and work in Austin,” said Trish Avery, Houston-Austin executive director for SAG-AFTRA, a labor union for performers.

So far this year, Texas has hosted 16 TV and film projects, with estimated spending of nearly $130 million, according to the Texas Film Commission. Those projects include TNT’s Dallas, appropriately filmed in Dallas, and ABC Family’s The Lying Game, shot in Austin.

Revolution is the newest member of our media community,” Avery said, “and we look forward to welcoming more.”

Indeed, Bond said success in the TV business breeds success. He said Friday Night Lights and The Lying Game pretty much put Austin on the map for TV locales, and those shows played a role in attracting Revolution to Central Texas. Bond called TV and movie production “an important part” of Austin’s economic and cultural mix.

A city-commissioned study released last year showed the film and TV business in Austin created an economic impact of nearly $283 million in 2010.

For TV viewers unfamiliar with Revolution, NBC says the show follows a family struggling “to reunite in an American landscape where every single piece of technology — computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights — has mysteriously blacked out forever.”

The season finale of Revolution — the last episode filmed in North Carolina — airs at 9 p.m. Monday. For its second season, the show will move to the 7 p.m. time slot on Wednesdays.

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