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"Transformers 5" to film in Detroit with $21 million incentive

Feb 26, 2016

Credit Robert Zuckerman / Michigan Film Office

Despite the abolishment of the state’s film incentives program, the Transformers franchise will make its way back to Detroit this summer.

Differing from previous Transformers installments filmed in Detroit, Paramount Pictures and the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office created a single agreement for this film, which will ensure the production meets standards for its expenditures and number of personnel hired in the state.

The Michigan Film & Digital Media Office said the deal with Paramount will give $21 million to the film project.

“Having one of the highest-profile film franchises created in Michigan is a major economic boost and a testament to the talent of the state’s production community,” said Jenell Leonard, commissioner of the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, in the release.

The production team expects to spend $80 million in the state, and making 850 cast and crew hires. It says more than half those hires will be Michigan residents. And, the team plans to hire 700 extras for the film.

The film will be directed by Michael Bay and will star Mark Wahlberg, who will reprise his role as Cade Yaeger from the franchise's fourth installment "Transformers: Age of Extinction." The film is expected to be released in June 2017.

“Michigan has been so welcoming of Michael Bay and the ‘Transformers’ movies over the years and we are thrilled to be returning for this next incredible installment,” said Lee Rosenthal, president of Physical Production at Paramount Pictures, in a press release.  

The three previous "Transformers" installments were also filmed in Detroit. Other high-budgeted blockbusters filmed in Detroit include "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Red Dawn."

In July, the Michigan Legislature passed legislation to end Michigan’s film incentive program, which means the film office cannot enter new agreements with production companies. However, the state honors agreements that were made before the program was ended.

The decision was a controversial one, as proponents believed it would save the state money and opponents said it would devalue the importance of the arts in the state.

Michigan Radio’s Jack Neher has more from a report from June 2015:

Supporters of House Bill 4122 say the level of economic activity generated by the program doesn’t justify its cost. And they say the film industry has never taken hold in Michigan.

“The whole thing was based on the premise that you have to keep having films because once you get people trained you need the next film to keep them employed. And we just couldn’t pull that off,” said state Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion.

….

Opponents of ending the credits say it sends a bad message to businesses.

“They’re looking for stability and the message that we’re putting out there is we’re an unstable place with an erratic legislature,” said state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren.

“It’s been a schizophrenic approach where we had some pretty nice incentives and now we’re just going in the other direction.”

The Michigan Film & Digitial Media Office says to e-mail e75production@gmail.com to get more information on how to apply to be a member of the production team or an extra.