ATLANTA - Business owners in downtown Atlanta say a movie shoot has dragged out for weeks, making the street all but impassable and disrupting their businesses. The moviemaker offered checks. But business owners say this was more than they bargained for.
Walton Street in downtown's Fairlie-Poplar district is now made to look like a New York City nightmare, amid a succession of burned out, torn up automobiles and trucks, framing a streetscape the filmmakers have made convincingly post apocalyptic.
Yet within it, businessmen like Morris "Abdul" Graham are struggling to draw in customers. From the outside, their storefronts look all but destroyed. But inside, Graham’s restaurant is in its eighth year of serving lunch and dinner.
"No business. No business," Graham said Monday. "Business is gone for right now. Til they move all this stuff, no business."
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Graham got a check from the filmmakers, who are shooting a sequel to the Avengers – a movie franchise that has grossed billions around the world. He wouldn't disclose the amount.
But Graham says he’s surprised that the movie set on Walton Streets has stayed put for five weeks – and is expected to stay here through the end of July.
"I expected it to be less days. It wound up being 45 days. I was thinking it was going to be maybe between 13 to maybe 16 days," Graham said.
Other business owners on the block told the same story, though they didn't want their names used in this story.
"We’ve lost four thousand dollars worth of revenue the last month. No telling how much we’ll lose this month," said David Jackson, whose restaurant Cafe Lucia is just outside the two blocks of Walton closed to traffic.
He says he’s had nothing but good experiences with filmmakers shooting downtown – until this moviemaker offered him $250 for the eight week disruption.
"The lack of respect that they’ve given us has been horrible. It’s been really bad," Jackson said.
Business owners say they have little leverage with filmmakers, who typically approach them after they've secured permits to close streets and shoot movies.
There have been few public conflicts with filmmakers, who have generated $9.5 billion in revenue in Georgia in fiscal year 2017, according to a press release issued Monday from Gov. Nathan Deal.