Improved incentives may lure planned movie about MLK to Memphis

By Jason Miles - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - "The Blind Side" is one recent example of a movie set in Memphis but filmed elsewhere.

Director Craig Brewer is remaking "Footloose" and also using Memphis as a backdrop.  That film will be shot in Georgia.

It's the same story for television shows "Memphis Beat" and "Hellcats."

"It's been devastating," said Memphis & Shelby County Film Commission executive director Lynn Sitler.

Sitler said she hopes to prevent a "sequel."

"We lost Footloose because of $1.8 million," said Sitler.  "The state ponied up to that point and there was still that difference between Georgia and Tennessee."

With help from the city and county, Sitler is pushing for legislative approval in Nashville of a more competitive incentive package that would include tax breaks for filmmakers.

"And yes, they get incentives," said Sitler.  "But so does Electrolux and the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga."

There is word that well-known Hollywood director Paul Greengrass plans to focus his next project on the final days of Martin Luther King's life.  It is tentatively titled "Memphis."

Sitler said now is a perfect time to re-examine Memphis' role in movie-making..

"What film incentives do is make it possible for hairdressers, truck drivers, construction workers, car rental companies, extras, everybody, to work," said Sitler.

There was no word on when the MLK-based movie might actually begin production.

Coincidentally, news also broke this week about "Memphis" the musical heading to movie theaters as well.  It will be a filmed version of the live stage performance.

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