It is no secret that Michigan has been trying to boost its economy by luring movie makers with financial incentives, great venues, and lower production costs. Recently, however, talks about removing the film incentives have left the Michigan movie industry shaky. Now a large step in the right direction comes as Raleigh Michigan Studios opens its doors in Pontiac.
Michigan's first major film studio features seven sound stages and state-of-the-art equipment at the site of the former General Motors Centerpoint truck plant and office complex. The studio also has 360,000 square feet of office space, some of which has already been leased to production companies, production services firms and other vendors.
The new studio is owned by local businessmen and has yet to start filming. However, a recent Film Detroit newsletter stated that one major, pre-approved, studio blockbuster has contracted for most of the space at Raleigh for the rest of 2011 and a bit beyond.
Owners declined to comment about any movies filming at Raleigh Michigan this year, citing confidentiality agreements that studio executives have signed. The Detroit Free Press has previously reported that Raleigh Michigan will be the site of filming for "Oz: The Great and Powerful," a Disney prequel to "The Wizard of Oz."
The movie was approved for a $40-million state film incentive last year, before Governor Rick Snyder proposed a limit of $25 million a year on these incentives as part of his budget-savings plan. Disney plans to spend $105 million in the state and hire 257 local residents.
"Oz" will keep Raleigh Michigan going this year, but the studio's long-term future depends on what happens to Michigan's movie incentives, which are critical in attracting filming to the state. Plans for the studio had envisioned as many as 3,600 people working at the complex for a variety of companies.
Many in Michigan and in the movie industry are concerned over Governor Snyder’s incentive cap. They feel that this will have a huge negative effect and will reduce film-making in Michigan. Lobbing has begun to raise the cap for $25 million to $180 million per year. Only time will tell what the results of the upcoming weeks state budget negations will be.
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