50 Cent: Goodbye Grand Rapids, hello New Orleans

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and producing partner Randall Emmett

“Freelancer,” Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s fifth movie scheduled to start shooting in Grand Rapids March 28, has moved its production offices to New Orleans.

“That’s $20 million that walked out the door,” said West Michigan film commission Rick Hert, referring to “Freelancer’s” sizeable budget. 

His biggest concern, Hert said, “is local crew members migrating to other states for job, to Louisiana and Tennessee.  They had hoped this film would be their next project.”

Jackson’s producing partner, Randall Emmett, informed West Michigan filmmakers about his reason for leaving Grand Rapids after more than a year in a recent film office newsletter.  

“I am still trying to get my application on ‘Freelancers’ approved that has been under review for over a month-and-a-half. We were in final approval process when the governor handed down the incentive reductions. 

“I have received no indication of a real date for approval. This is beyond disappointing to me and our companies,” he wrote.

“I look forward to seeing what the final new legislation is going to be. Either way, I will always choose Michigan first as long as I can get the incentives needed to make movies in this already turbulent economic crisis we all are facing.”

Rick Hert, West Michigan Film Commissioner

“Freelancer” would’ve been Fiddy’s fifth Michigan film 

“Freelancer” is among 15 Hollywood projects awaiting tax incentive approval.  Of the some 25 applications so far this year, only two were approved.   

Since mid-2009, Cheetah Vision filmed four features in Grand Rapids – the first was “Caught in the Crossfire,” followed by “Setup” with Bruce Willis, “Things Fall Apart,” and “Gun.” 

The films are part of a 10 picture, $200 million deal Cheetah Vision has with Lionsgate. 

The West Michigan Film Office doesn’t track income from film production, Hert noted, “but production here resulted in thousands of room nights and during this time of year, February to April, we certainly could use the business.

“We worked hard for three years to build a booming business in Michigan that created jobs, economic developed and supported the creative class.  Being in production limbo like we are makes it hard on everyone.”

THE PLANNED MARCH 22 RALLY organized by the Michigan film industry supporters at the state capitol in Lansing been postponed until late April because of the absence of Michigan Republicans. An exact date is TBA.

Instead, a letter-writing campaign will take place on March 22 at Michigan Production Studios, 6875 N. Rochester Rd. in Rochester Hills. 

More details are available at the 6 for 1 Brigade website (named after a recent study stating that $6 in economic activity occurs for every $1 in film tax incentives the state spends).

This Facebook page was set up to follow the invcentives battle here in MI.