It was the location where Disney brought its smash hit â??Oz the Great and Powerfulâ?? to life, a film that debuted in first place at the box office generating nearly $80 million in its first weekend. But this movie-making powerhouse is not in the Hollywood hills, it is right here in Michigan in Metro Detroit.
Itâ??s called Michigan Motion Picture Studios in Pontiac and right now it's preparing for yet another major Hollywood close-up.
Michigan Motion Picture Studios has put the state on the map as a worldwide movie-making destination. In fact, right now pre-production work is underway at the Pontiac studio for Michael Bay's â??Transformers 4.â??
"It's right here its in Pontiac, Michigan and that's what people just cant get over when they tour it for the first time, they canâ??t believe its in their back yard,â?? says Linden Nelson, CEO of Michigan Motion Picture Studios.
The $80 million dollar studio is comprised of 175 square feet of production space and has some of the most cut-edge technology.
This studio is also where â??Oz the Great and Powerfulâ?? was shot. The studio was turned into a world of fantasy, featuring a unique cornucopia of costumes, elaborate set creations and remarkable make up effects that dazzled movie-goers.
"We had James Franco and Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams, Rachael Weisz, it was unbelievable! The corridor you walked through, there were the little people who were playing the little people in Oz, there were the guards, and you have all this hub-hubâ?| Mila Kunis coming to lunch in the cafeteria in her bath robe,â?? explains Linden Nelson.
Oz the Great and Power gave an estimated $130M dollar boost to Michiganâ??s economy and the production created more than 2,000 jobs.
"On OZ, I went and looked through entire crew list and just based on area codes for phone numbers, every single Michigan area code, even from the Upper Peninsula was represented in this film. So everybody in Michigan should know, this studio and the film industry represent a new kind of creative opportunity," says Sanford Nelson, head of marketing at Michigan Motion Picture Studios.
Michigan Motion Picture Studios was built in 2010 on an old General Motorâ??s assembly plant site, a place that once employed 2,500 people.
Linden Nelson says, "Jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs, and keeping our young people here! How do we keep our young people in Michigan, what do we offer we want to have a diversity workforce development. Our idea was to have young people here and to have different jobs that would appeal to these young people so we would keep people with different skill sets."
More jobs are on the way at Michigan Motion Picture studios as pre-production work starts on â??Transformers 4.â??
"Transformers is one of the major global franchise films, so itâ??s unbelievable that Michigan gets to be a part of that. They're going to be hiring a lot of local people in fact according to the film office I believe the number was about 368 Michigan people!â?? says Sanford Nelson.
â??Transformers 4â?? will shoot at the Michigan Motion Picture Studios this summer and will go on to shoot at several other locations worldwide.