Motown megastudio casts shadow in Canada

Efforts to get Hollywood back to Ontario hit a new hurdle with news that Michigan will build a new $53-million, 600,000-square-foot megastudio in an abandoned GM truck plant. Motown Motion Picture Studios plans to open nine soundstages from 12,000 to 30,000 square feet in size in Pontiac later this year, without any apparent Canadian involvement or ownership. (Pontiac is a small city some 40 kilometers from the Detroit/Windsor border crossing.) The proposed studio, backed by generous state tax breaks, will instead be managed in Pontiac by L.A.-based Raleigh Studios and repped in Hollywood by the Endeavor Talent Agency.

Efforts to get Hollywood back to Ontario hit a new hurdle with news that Michigan will build a new $53-million, 600,000-square-foot megastudio in an abandoned GM truck plant. Motown Motion Picture Studios plans to open nine soundstages from 12,000 to 30,000 square feet in size in Pontiac later this year, without any apparent Canadian involvement or ownership. (Pontiac is a small city some 40 kilometers from the Detroit/Windsor border crossing.) The proposed studio, backed by generous state tax breaks, will instead be managed in Pontiac by L.A.-based Raleigh Studios and repped in Hollywood by the Endeavor Talent Agency.

Ken Ferguson, president of Filmport Studios in Toronto, said the cash-strapped Michigan state government will need to subsidize MMPS heavily for years to come if it hopes to woo Hollywood producers away from Canada and rival U.S. locales. ‘There’s got to be a business model that does not rely on a piece of legislation that is giving away an exorbitant tax credit. I don’t see how the state of Michigan is making a return on investment here,’ Ferguson said.

Last year, the state introduced a 42% refundable tax credit for Hollywood producers, which immediately undercut Canada’s competitiveness as it looked to lure L.A. producers back once the Screen Actors Guild concludes a new labor deal with the major studios.

Michigan is also busy retrofitting other former car assembly plants to become new soundstages. TicTock Studios in Holland, Michigan said it will convert a local factory into a second 76,000-square-foot studio, also using state money. Last summer, L.A.-based V-One Entertainment Group unveiled plans to build a separate film studio in southern Michigan.