“Freelancers” cuts bait, going to New Orleans

March 17th, 2011 at 2:11 pm by under Entertainment

“Freelancers” moving production to New Orleans because of uncertainty over Michigan Film Incentives

50 Cent and Randall Emmett in Grand Rapids for premiere of "Caught in the Crossfire" 5-11-10

A fifth “50 Cent”-Randall Emmett movie won’t be made in West Michigan this month.   They’ve made four movies here, but now the $20 million dollar budget crime drama  ”Freelancers”, starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, is leaving West Michigan for New Orleans.

After weeks of rumors and speculations, the movie “Freelancers” (and its reported $20 million budget), that was scheduled to begin shooting in Grand Rapids later this month (around March 28) is moving to New Orleans.

The movie was in limbo waiting for approval from the Michigan Film Office on the state’s film incentives.  The state film office says the movie was “under review” – a normal part of the process of approving productions for the state’s film credits of up to 42% off the production.  

“Freelancers” producer Randall Emmett says “I love Grand Rapids and Michigan.  I have built relationships and friendships that will be lifelong.”  He added, “We were in final approval process when the Governor handed down the incentive reductions. I have received no indications of a real date for approval. This is beyond disappointing to me and our companies.”

Emmett seems to indicate that if the incentives are saved he would be back – “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 our facing.”

Michelle Begnoche of the Michigan Film Office told me (March 2nd) that “Our review process typically last around 4 weeks once we get all of the appropriate documents in.  Freelancers is still within this timeframe.”

50 Cent’s production company Cheetah Vision – that partners with Emmett Furla – has filmed four features in Grand Rapids – “Caught in the Crossfire”, “Gun”, “Things Fall Apart, and “Setup”.

“Setup” and “Freelancers” are part of a reported 10 picture, $200 million deal that  Cheetah Vision has with Lionsgate.

Today, Emmett told me via e-mail that “we are optimistic and expect to come home to gr soon. This is just a bump in road and we along with thousand of others are fighting to get the incentives back to a place the entire state can benefit from.”

The West Michigan Film Office is concerned about the loss of local jobs and money from the movie leaving town.  West Michigan Film Office Commissioner Rick Hert tells me “They took their 20 million bucks and will spend it somewhere else.  Thousand of room nights, hundreds of jobs gone.”

“Freelancers” is a crime drama about the son of a slain NYPD officer joins the force, where he falls in with his father’s former partner and a team of rogue cops.

“50 Cent” is the only announced cast member at this time.

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One Response to ““Freelancers” cuts bait, going to New Orleans”

  1. Ray in GR says:

    Thanks Gov. SNYDER.

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