Saturday, February 7, 2009

Film production studios coming to Michigan cities

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan continues to make inroads into the motion picture industry as planned production studios in Detroit and Pontiac are expected to bring more than 5,800 jobs to the state.

The former MGM Grand temporary casino just outside downtown Detroit will be home to the Detroit Center Studios, Michigan Economic Development Corp. spokesman Mike Shore said Tuesday.

About 20 miles northwest of Detroit, Motown Motion Pictures LLC plans to invest about $70 million in a 600,000-square-foot development with nine sound stages in Pontiac.

"It makes us a 12-months-a-year film center," said Chris Baum, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and Film Detroit.

"It makes us a legitimate contender — the studios on the ground and best incentives in the country."

Michigan is one of the most financially attractive states in the nation in which to make movies. Film studios can receive a refundable credit of up to 42% on production expenses in the state.

A state tax credit of $16.9 million over 12 years has been approved for Detroit Center Studios which expects to create 700 jobs. Motown Motion Pictures is expected to bring in more than 5,130 jobs and will get a tax credit of $101 million over 12 years.

"None of these tax credits go to the companies until they meet the terms of the investment and hire people," Shore said.

The new studios will help keep some existing jobs in a state ravaged by the troubles of U.S. automakers and an unfriendly economy, Baum said.

"It's about retaining jobs for industries like hotels and restaurants," he said. "The films that will come to Detroit this year will keep people employed."

The state's film office in Lansing has approved 71 scripts. About half are expected to be shot in Michigan this year, Baum said.

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