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CHARLOTTE (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL) — Thanks to new but controversial tax breaks, 2011 was a marquee year for North Carolina’s film industry, which landed big-name projects “Iron Man 3,” “Homeland” and “Hunger Games.”

Bringing red-carpet stars Robert Downey Jr., Claire Danes and Jennifer Lawrence, studios chasing tax incentives increased their spending in North Carolina nearly threefold — from $75 million in 2010 to $220 million in 2011.

It was a record year, and 2012 should be even better — the N.C. Film Office is projecting the industry will spend at least $275 million.

A year ago, state law changed so moviemakers could get a refund on 25 percent of salaries and money they spent on taxable items in North Carolina, worth up to $20 million per project. It made the state among the most competitive in the nation in tax breaks for the industry.

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