CLEVELAND - Filmmaker Anthony Russo, a Cleveland native, said he will not be filming his upcoming movie "Cherry" in Cleveland because of uncertainty earlier this year over the fate of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.
The tax credit, which provides $40 million in incentives to filmmakers, was removed from the state budget in the Ohio Legislature, then reinstated before the budget passed.
"Cherry," which is set in Cleveland, is about a veteran who is struggling with PTSD and addiction. It is set to begin filming this fall.
"That is a movie we wanted to shoot here. It’s a story that is set in Cleveland. But because the Ohio Legislature had pulled the tax incentive for film production here in Ohio out of the budget back in the spring, that sort of sent us into a plan B," Russo said. "And unfortunately, even though the legislature reinstated the tax incentive, it was too late for our production to actually end up here."
Russo made the comments during an interview with FOX 8 News ahead of a fan meet-and-greet at Best Buy, part of a nationwide We Love You 3,000 Tour to celebrate the in-home release of Avengers: Endgame, which is among the top-grossing films of all time. Anthony Russo and his brother, Joe Russo, were co-directors of the film.
Fans began lining up Wednesday night for a chance to meet Russo and get his autograph.
The Russo brothers previously filmed Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Cleveland. Russo said Northeast Ohio remains an attractive place for film production, in part because of its variety of landscapes.
"Selfishly, as people who want to continue shooting in Cleveland, we really think there’s a lot of benefits to the tax incentive and we hope it continues, we hope it grows," Russo said. "It’s really unfortunate there was this crisis point where we momentarily pulled away because it did hurt business on the future film front, especially with us on a personal level with this movie."
He said he has no direct plans for involvement in a post-production facility in Northeast Ohio, but he planned to continuing making movies in the region.
"It's an amazing city," he said. "We will be back."
The Greater Cleveland Film Commission released the following statement on Friday to FOX 8 News:
“The situation with Cherry demonstrates the critical importance of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and that there is significant proven interest from the industry in filming here in Northeast Ohio. With the credit in place, there is a huge opportunity to create jobs and boost our local economy, which is even more reason we need to raise the incentive to $100 million and change the renewal period to every 4-5 years instead of every two years. This will help filmmakers be confident in choosing Ohio.”