The Associated Press
Oz is hitting the yellow brick road for Michigan.
A Sam Raimi-directed prequel to the story of “The Wizard of Oz” — called simply “Oz” — will be filmed later this year at a Pontiac studio that recently opened on the site of a former General Motors truck plant and office complex.
Raleigh Michigan Studios said Friday the Disney film will be the largest feature to shoot in the state, which has been luring some major film projects in recent years thanks to a program that offered some of the most generous tax credits in the nation.
But the announcement comes as uncertainty surrounds Michigan’s film industry.
Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a limit of $25 million a year on incentives as part of his budget-savings plan. The state’s current incentive program for filmmakers is not capped.
Critics say the incentives come at too high a cost and that much of the money awarded does not remain in Michigan.
The film industry is lobbying hard to keep the current system in place.
Michelle Begnoche, spokeswoman for the Michigan Film Office, said “Oz” was approved last year — before Snyder took office — for a $40 million incentive.
According to the film office’s 2010 annual report, “Oz” expects to spend $104 million in the state.
“Raleigh Michigan Studios is a state-of-the-art facility, and their team has pulled out all the stops to create the right situation for us to shoot in Michigan,” Sean Bailey, president of production at The Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.
Raleigh Michigan Studios said the project will be the first feature to occupy its just-completed sound stages.
“’Oz’ was originally written in Holland, Michigan, and so it is fitting that our great state should be part of this new production,” said Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.
The film also represents a homecoming for Raimi, who grew up near Detroit and attended Michigan State University. He’s known for such movies as “Spider-Man” and “The Evil Dead.”
“Oz” expects to begin shooting in August and will occupy the Pontiac studio through the remainder of the year.