On Location: Michigan gets 'Oz' wish as uncertainty looms over film tax credit program
Michigan isn't exactly Kansas, but anything is possible in the world of "Oz" -- and film tax credits. Walt Disney Studios confirmed Friday that its upcoming film “Oz” -- a prequel to the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz” -- will be filmed in Michigan after all.
The movie, directed by Sam Raimi, has a production budget of more than $150 million and would be the largest feature film to ever shoot in Michigan.
The project's fate had been uncertain after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently proposed a big cut in the state’s film tax credit program to balance the budget. Snyder called for capping the program at $25 million a year.
Currently Michigan has no such cap and allocates about $100 million annually in tax credits, making it one of the most popular film programs in the country.
Burbank-based Disney decided to proceed with the film after receiving assurances from state officials that its previously approved $40-million tax credit would not be affected.
That was welcome news to Los Angeles-based Raleigh Studios, which has just opened a $76-million studio in Pontiac, Mich., where “Oz” will begin filming in August. The production will fill up most of the studio’s seven stages.
“This definitely makes us rest a little easier,” said Mike Newport, vice president of marketing for Raleigh Studios. “Now the only question is what the tax credit will end up being moving forward.”
Photo: From the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz." Credit: Turner Entertainment/Warner Bros. Entertainment.
-- Richard Verrier