Jason Segel-Emily Blunt comedy gets approved for film incentives

Posted on March 29, 2011

“Five Year Engagement,” a romantic comedy starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, has been approved for Michigan’s film incentives.

It’s the first project to get the OK since mid-February, when Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to cut back on the incentives was announced.

It’s also the first one to be given the go-ahead under the new policy and guidelines for approving current and future incentive applications for the rest of 2011.

The new policy and guidelines, which were released by the Michigan Film Office about a week ago, add a review by a Michigan Economic Development Corp. committee. They also put more emphasis on criteria that relate specifically to the state, like showing Michigan in a positive light and utilizing existing studios and post-production labs.

The film office has indicated that it’s operating under the governor’s proposed budget, which would cap new incentives at $25 million annually. There is no annual cap on the incentives under the current law.

“Five Year Engagement” has been approved for an incentive of more than $5 million on $12.5 million of proposed Michigan spending. Under a $25-million cap, that would represent roughly one-fifth of what would be available for the more than 40 projects now waiting for approvals.

The movie is expected to be shot mostly in Ann Arbor and is scheduled for release by Universal Pictures. It costars a couple of NBC sitcom regulars, Alison Brie of “Community” and Chris Pratt of “Parks and Recreation,” and Rhys Ifans of “Notting Hill.” It’s set to be directed by Nicholas Stoller of “Get Him to the Greek” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and produced by Judd Apatow. It is cowritten by Stoller and Segel.

The local film industry has been waiting nervously for the stalled approval process to start moving again. There has been much buzz among supporters of the incentives about projects that have changed plans to film here because of Snyder’s proposal or may be switching to another state if their approval doesn’t come through soon.

The studio behind the movie expressed gratitude to the film office. “We appreciate the work of Michigan’s Film Office in helping secure an incentive for us to film in the state,” Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson said in a statement Monday. “It is these types of programs that make it mutually beneficial for us to use Michigan as a backdrop in our movies.”

Ann Arbor will play itself in the film.

“This is a terrific opportunity to showcase our state to a national audience while benefiting from investments made by the project in local economies,” said Michigan Film Office director Carrie Jones in a statement.

By Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press