$80M Pontiac Film Studio Opens

Posted on May 6, 2011

Raleigh Michigan Studios, backed by several business executives with an estimated $60 million to $80 million price tag, is open for business in Pontiac.

The studio, which broke ground last summer at the former General Motors Co. Centerpoint truck plant and office complex, features seven sound stages and more than 360,000 square feet of office space.

It opened for production work in mid-April, though its stages haven’t been used, said Michael Newport, director of marketing and client development for Hollywood, Calif.-based Raleigh Studios, a partner in Raleigh Michigan Studios. Other partners include real estate developer A. Alfred Taubman and the Taubman family and Walbridge CEO John Rakolta Jr.

Plans originally called for building nine stages, but two smaller stages have been put on hold in part because of the uncertainty about funding for Michigan’s film incentives, Newport said.

In February, Gov. Rick Snyder announced plans to limit Michigan’s generous uncapped film incentives to $25 million annually in fiscal 2012 and 2013.

Movies are still coming to Michigan, Newport said, and Raleigh Michigan Studios is available to serve them.

“The studio’s built, it’s there and until there is not going to be a film infrastructure or business in Michigan, there’s no reason for us not to move forward,” he said.

Some space has been leased, though Newport said he didn’t have details Thursday.

Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions in Farmington Hills, which is handling leasing of more than 100,000 square feet at Raleigh, said the second floor is designed for post-production and special-effects tenants.

“We’re also talking to certain law firms and talent and casting agencies, but post production seems to be the largest space users, so we’re really focused on those groups,” said Steve Eisenshtadt, Friedman’s vice president of brokerage. “We do have a handful of prospects that we’re in active negotiations with.”

Raleigh has a large project moving in for pre-production work, said Chris Baum, senior vice president of Film Detroit, a division of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Raleigh Michigan Studios is the 800-pound gorilla of Michigan’s entertainment business,” Baum said. “They built a world-class facility, and we’re confident we’ll be able to find a compromise with Lansing to let that economic engine do its thing for Pontiac and Oakland County and all of southeast Michigan.”

Baum and Newport declined to comment on the project coming to Raleigh, but Disney’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” is reportedly headed to the studio.

Last year, the state Film Office approved “Oz” for nearly $40 million in incentives based on spending of nearly $105 million.

The Raleigh project was projected to create 3,600 jobs.