WISCONSINREPORT.COM (02/26/08) - Universal Pictures has committed to shoot portions of its upcoming film Public Enemies in Wisconsin. The motion picture will be directed and produced by University of Wisconsin alumnus Michael Mann and star Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. The company reached agreement today with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce on tax credits from the new Film Production Services Tax Credit Program. The movie script, director and actors, will bring to life the story of John Dillinger who robbed banks and was hunted by the FBI in the 1930s.
“Welcoming the film industry to Wisconsin gives us an opportunity to showcase the rich diversity of our great state – its landscapes, its people, and its culture,” Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said.
“Movies create a sense of place that stays in the minds and hearts of moviegoers long after the credits roll. And as the proud Governor of this wonderful state, I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see on the big screen what we enjoy every day – the great state of Wisconsin,” Governor Doyle added.
“Public Enemies,” the story of America’s criminal folk hero John Dillinger (Depp), whose wave of bank robberies and the subsequent FBI manhunt – commanded by J. Edgar Hoover and run by Special Agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) – fascinated the nation in the 1930s.
This film will be the first major production to come to Wisconsin after new tax incentives for the film industry took effect on January 1, 2008. By producing in Wisconsin, the company could earn approximately $3.9 million in tax credits.
The company expects to spend nearly $20 million in the state by conducting a portion of the filming in Wisconsin. Individual community locations have not yet been determined. In choosing Wisconsin, Michael Mann cited the high quality historic building stock in many Wisconsin communities that will lend authenticity to the action-thriller.
It is estimated that about 50 percent of money spent on a film production stays in the local community where filming takes place. Other states that have enacted credits, such as New Mexico and New York, have seen revenues jump anywhere from $125 to $600 million in their first year, due to incentives.
”It is a coup to have Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Michael Mann headline the first film, but these incentives have just begun to work,” Lieutenant Governor Lawton said. “They will continue to attract both blockbuster and smaller budget films to Wisconsin as more producers hear what a great place Wisconsin is to do business. Wisconsin is now a major player in attracting creative industries.”
Producer - Director - Writer Michael Moore has been involved in motion pictures and television since back in the Hawaii Five-O days. Hawaii Five-0 veteran Robert Lewin gave Mann a shot and a crash course on television writing and story structure.
Mann wrote the first four episodes of Starsky and Hutch and the pilot episode for Vega$. Around this time, he worked on a show called Police Story with cop-turned-novelist Joseph Wambaugh. Police Story concentrated on the detailed realism of a real cop's life and taught Mann the essential for first-hand research to bring authenticity to his work.
Michael Mann's first feature movie was a made-for-TV special called The Jericho Mile, which was released theatrically in Europe. It won the Emmy in 1979 and the Directors Guild of America Best Director award. His television work also includes being the executive producer on Miami Vice and Crime Story.
Mann has been involved as a producer, director, or both, with movies starring Will Smith, James Caan, Al Pacino, Robert DiNiro, Jamie Foxx, and other well known stars. He has also written the story or screenplay for many of his projects.
There are two film industry tax credits that went into effect in Wisconsin on January 1, 2008:
FILM PRODUCTION SERVICES TAX CREDIT
The credit is for an accredited film, video, electronic game, broadcast ad, or TV production. A production that is less than 30 minutes has to cost at least $50,000, and a production that is 30 minutes or longer has to cost more than $100,000. To claim the credit, the claimant has to either own the copyright for the production or have a contract with the copyright owner as well as a viable distribution plan.
The credit can be claimed in three different ways:
- 25 percent of the salaries or wages paid to Wisconsin residents for services for the production that are rendered in the state, up to a maximum credit of $25,000 per employee.
- 25 percent of the production expenses paid by the eligible claimant to produce the production. Expenses for music, air travel, and insurance can be claimed as long the service provider is headquartered in the state.
- 100 percent of the amounts paid for sales taxes paid on the purchase of personal property and taxable services for the production.
FILM PRODUCTION COMPANY INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT
A claimant can claim the following for the first three years that it is doing business in the state as a film production company:
- 15 percent of the purchase price of depreciable, tangible personal property, such as business equipment and vehicles. At least 50% of the property’s use has to be for the film production company.
- 15 percent of the amount spent to acquire, construct, rehabilitate, remodel, or repair real property. The property can’t be previously owned by the claimant.
Applicants for the credits submit an application to the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, which will determine eligibility, accredit the production, and estimate the amount of credits a project is eligible to claim following its completion of the project.