Photo courtesy of the Vogue Theatre

The historic Vogue Theatre in downtown Manistee is $100,000 richer today, thanks to an anonymous donor. The generous gift will go towards helping restore the long-dormant theatre.

Beth McCarthy, a member of the Capital Campaign to restore the Vogue Theatre, released a statement this afternoon:

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

We wrap up our Stories from the North Woods series with a look at how cities and towns from Detroit to Marquette are bringing new life to their old movie palaces. 

The Vista Theater as community theater

When the Vista Theater opened in Negaunee in the 1920s, the Upper Peninsula town was booming. Alfred Keefer says the Vista "was the theater to be at, and they would fill this house up on movie nights."

User mconnors / MorgueFile

The experimental and sometimes controversial Ann Arbor Film Festival turns 50 next year, but festival organizers aren’t waiting until then to celebrate.

They’ve put together a five-part retrospective series, the first of which screens tonight. The retrospective series will lead up to the actual festival, which runs March 27 - April 1, 2012.

Reinis Traidas / Flickr

The old film incentives were scrapped in the tax overhaul approved by the Michigan legislature and the Governor.

They said the old film incentives, which gave production companies a 42% credit on total expenses in Michigan, was too costly ($115 million was spent last year, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy).

In it's place, a $25 million film incentive program for Michigan's next fiscal year (which starts October 1).

Now, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he wants to improve the film incentives.

MPRN's Rick Plua filed this report:

Richardville says his new proposal would focus financial support in activities that reward spending on Michigan products, services, and workers.

He says investors have put money into expensive production facilities, and workers have learned new skills in the belief that incentives would attract more film business to the state.

 “I think the strength of that workforce, the strength of the investments we have in Michigan will cause us to win contracts in competitive situations versus other states. Once we’re done with that, then let’s analyze it to see what we can afford versus what the industry needs to sustain itself here in Michigan.”

Governor Rick Snyder’s office says he would like to see how Michigan’s new incentive program is working before making changes.

user: Otzberg / creative commons

The 49th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival kicks off Tuesday, March 22 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

It's the longest running independent and experimental film festival in the country.  

So while you won’t see a George Clooney flick at the festival, you could catch a documentary about industrial music, or a two minute short about London street life filmed using an iPhone.

Andrew McFarlane / Creative Commons

A new study shows Michigan’s tax incentives for the TV and film industry generated close to 4,000 fulltime jobs last year with an average salary of $53,700.  

Larry Alexander is President & CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, one of several bureaus across the state that helped commission the study.

“Diversifying Michigan’s economy by investing $84.7 million- and generating over a half a billion dollars of economic activity and nearly 4,000 high paying jobs- sounds like a pretty good deal to us.”

Rick Hert heads the West Michigan Film Office. He says talk about limiting the film incentives in the past reached Hollywood and caused some producers decide not to come to Michigan.

 “This is much bigger. This is a new governor of the state of Michigan and his comments are doing more than reverberating, they’re putting a clamp on the future of this industry.”

Hert is thankful the governor didn’t totally remove the incentives, but worries they’ll be too limited to keep attracting producers.

Hert says he understands the state is broke and that legislators have some tough calls to make.

Republican state senator Rick Jones says Michigan’s film tax credit might need to be trimmed, but he doesn’t think it should be eliminated. 

Governor Rick Snyder has said he’s going to put Michigan’s generous film tax credit policy under the microscope.

Movie companies can get up to a 42 percent tax credit if they film here.

But State Sen. Rick Jones says movies made in Michigan can be good for the state, because a hit can bring residual money into a community:

A good example would be "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeve." We still have people traveling to Mackinac Island to see where that movie was made. There are still souvenirs sold, and it increases tourism.

Jones says his position has nothing to do with the possibility that the next Batman movie may be shot in his hometown of Grand Ledge.

Another movie, “Red  Dawn,” was also filmed in  Grand Ledge  and is awaiting release.

The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
user otzberg / Flickr

Michigan film buffs won’t have to fly to Utah to experience this month’s Sundance Film Festival. That’s because Sundance is bringing part of the festival to Ann Arbor.

This is the second year in a row that the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor has been tapped to premiere a Sundance Film during the actual festival in Utah.

Last year, the Michigan Theater premiered Cyrus, a movie by the Duplass brothers. This year, filmmaker Tom McCarthy will fly to Ann Arbor to premiere his movie Win Win on January 27.