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Disney's 'Oz' to be filmed in Michigan after all

The fate of the prequel to 'The Wizard of Oz' had been uncertain because of proposed cuts to Michigan's film tax credit program. But state officials say Disney's previously approved tax credit will not be affected.

May 14, 2011|By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times

Michigan isn't exactly Kansas, but anything's 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's Republican 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."

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