The mother of all superhero battles is set to take place in Detroit and surrounding cities during the first three months of 2014 with a projected 2015 release.
The Michigan Film Office announced it has approved $35 million in tax incentives for the upcoming and untitled Superman vs. Batman movie.
The highly-anticipated Warner Bros. film is predicted to spend $131 million in-state and plans to hire 406 workers for an estimated 426 new jobs, according to a news release issued by the MFO. In addition, 500 local vendors will be used throughout the production and $5.1 million will be spent in Michigan hotels.
A direct sequel to 2013′s “Man of Steel,” the movie stars English actor Henry Cavill as Superman and has added Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck to the fray as a new interpretation on the Dark Knight.
For the film office, which acts as the cinematic arm of the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, hosting the mythic melee between two larger-than-life characters is just another shot in the arm for the state’s struggling economy and the optics of a city like Detroit.
“This will be a revival of Hollywood taking interest in the state,” said Michelle Begnoche, public relations manager for the MFO. “(Filming here) certainly sends a strong signal about Michigan as a film-making state. It’s a huge vote of confidence from Hollywood.”
The film is directed and co-written by Zack Snyder of “300″ and “Watchmen.” In the MFO-issued release, Snyder said filming in Detroit, blemishes and all, will be a uniquely American experience.
“Detroit is a great example of a quintessential American city, and I know it will make the perfect backdrop for our movie,” Snyder said.
The “Man of Steel” sequel is not alone in trying to rebrand Detroit as a cinematographic location. This year, the fourth installment of the “Transformers” franchise filmed in the city, as did actor-director Ryan Gosling’s “How To Catch A Monster.” In 2011, the Wizard of Oz prequel “Oz: The Great and Powerful” filmed in Pontiac.
All of these films chose Michigan despite Gov. Rick Snyder’s inaugural year decision to cut the state’s $115 million film incentives by more than half. The budget has remained at $50 million and has done so for the past three years.
Begnoche said even with the cuts, the film incentive program remains strong, as evidenced by last week’s announcement.
According to Jack Horner, feature films press coordinator for Warner Bros., casting for extras and stand-ins will begin during the fall months through the MFO and other casting organizations.
Many fan sites predict that Detroit will be the set piece for Gotham City, as the city’s long and unfortunate history of crime and corruption parallels the Motor City in various ways.
Opinions on whether the portrayal will be positive or negative have been mixed, as are student opinions on whether the film can help save Detroit amid its bankruptcy woes.
“This is huge for the city,” said Derek Cuddy, a Grosse Ile freshman. “Detroit needs as much money as it can get. It’ll bring in money, but stars too, and people will want to come here just to meet or see them.”
Novi freshman DaRon Turner, who grew up in Detroit, said the only thing this film can ease is the nation’s perception of the city, not its financial burden.
However, Abigail Matthews was less optimistic.
“Detroit is done for,” the Oak Park freshman said. “I know that sounds terrible. You can try and bring in money and it might help a little, but it’s better if the city is just done for.”