'Oz' premieres in Royal Oak, not far from filming location
'Oz the Great and Powerful' premiere draws crowd of Michigan film incentive supporters
At the Emagine Theatre in downtown Royal Oak there was a yellow carpet rolled out Tuesday night for the movie premiere of "Oz the Great and Powerful." It is a taste of Hollywood in Michigan.
It's a movie that's among two dozen filmed in the state a few years ago. The production took shape just up the road from the Royal Oak theatre.
"I do think, and we felt like Pontiac, like Detroit, opened us into their homes and hearts, and it was pleasurable, " said Grant Curtis, film producer.
Much of the Disney movie was shot inside a state-of-the-art studio in Pontiac, which now sits idle. It's a reflection of the state's cutback on a generous tax incentive. Michigan's film industry has withered, but it hasn't disappeared.
"And today you got 15,000 people, Michiganders, who are working directly in this business every day. About $500 million in wages. About 5,000 direct jobs in production," said Chris Dodd, of the Motion Picture Association of America.
The state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, an advocate of the film tax credit program, is working to get things back the way they were.
"My job is to convince the governor and also the legislature that this is continually a better return on investment for tax payers," Richardville said.
That could be tough because it doesn't appear Gov. Rick Snyder is a fan of the program which many say doesn't benefit the state.
However, the push is on for more Michigan films, and just for one night the Yellow Brick Road leads here.
"Without a doubt. Had a wonderful experience. We'd come back in a heartbeat," said Grant.
The movie opens to the public on Friday.