Brewer doing delicate dance to steer shooting of 'Footloose' to Memphis

Director Craig Brewer used an all-Memphis cast and crew to make the '$5 Cover' series for MTV.

Photo by Alan Spearman/The Commercial Appeal, Alan Spearman/The Commercial Appeal

Director Craig Brewer used an all-Memphis cast and crew to make the "$5 Cover" series for MTV.

Director Craig Brewer used an all-Memphis cast and crew to make the '$5 Cover' series for MTV.

Photo by Alan Spearman/The Commercial Appeal

Director Craig Brewer used an all-Memphis cast and crew to make the "$5 Cover" series for MTV.

Kevin Bacon in 'Footloose.'

Kevin Bacon in "Footloose."

The 1984 movie "Footloose" demonstrated that bringing high-spirited teenage dance rebellion to a hidebound small town was no easy job.

Now, Memphis moviemaker Craig Brewer is discovering that bringing his $25 million remake of "Footloose" to his home state is also no waltz in the park.

"I'm fighting desperately to get it shot in Tennessee, but we have some work to do," Brewer, 38, said Tuesday after Paramount Pictures officially announced that Brewer would helm the "Footloose" remake, confirming reports that have appeared in The Commercial Appeal and elsewhere since last fall. "It would be a crime if it doesn't happen here."

Scheduled to begin shooting this summer for a likely 2011 release, "Footloose" could be the first Brewer feature film not to be shot in the Memphis area. He said the movie -- like the Memphis-set "The Blind Side" -- will be shot in Georgia if Tennessee Film Commission officials can't figure out ways to match the savings offered by Georgia.

"If I can't do 'Footloose,' a music movie, in Tennessee, it's gonna break my heart," Brewer said. "We're still gonna make the movie, it just means I'm going to be shooting in Georgia, and hanging up Tennessee flags in the shots."

The original "Footloose" starred Kevin Bacon as a teen transplant from Chicago who shakes up a small town where dancing and rock music have been banned, thanks to the influence of a Bible-thumping preacher.

Brewer's remake, based on his revamp of Dean Pitchford's 1984 script, moves the action to the fictional small town of Beaumont, Tenn.

The script includes a sequence in Nashville, and Brewer said he plans to use original music -- country, rock, pop and "Dirty South" hip-hop -- created entirely by Tennessee artists.

The decision to shoot out of state would represent a double disappointment for the director, whose post-"Footloose" movie, the long-gestating and bigger-budgeted "Mother Trucker," is scheduled to begin shooting in Georgia in the summer of 2011.

A New Regency production budgeted at $50 million, "Mother Trucker" is the story of an escaped convict in a stolen 18-wheeler who leads authorities on a cross-state chase as he tries to get home to visit his dying mother.

Although Brewer's previous features for Paramount were the R-rated "Hustle & Flow," released in 2005, and the even darker "Black Snake Moan," released in 2007, he is not an unlikely choice for "Footloose." Brewer has long cited such popular 1980s music-oriented productions as "Footloose," "Flashdance" and "Purple Rain" as favorite films and huge influences.

Brewer said Tennessee needs the occasional relatively large budget, major-studio movie like "Footloose" to maintain its relevance as a filmmaking center.

"On 'Footloose' alone, we will be paying 2,900 extras -- that's just extras," Brewer said. "We would be bringing a sizable amount of money and work to the state, not to mention bragging rights -- this is a music state, and this is a music movie."

The debate over where to shoot the movie concerns the various incentives -- wage refunds, qualified spending rebates and so on -- offered by state and local governments for production companies. Georgia's incentive program would represent a savings of $2 million over Tennessee for the producers.

"We've had several discussions with Craig and with the state Film Commission about what would be needed to compete with Georgia's incentives, and we're hoping we'll be able to work everything out," said Memphis Film Commissioner Linn Sitler.

In the past, Shelby County and Tennessee have been able to beat other states for big pictures through what Sitler called "creative soft incentives," to augment the official state and local incentives.

For example, free office space was donated to the producers of "Walk the Line," and sets for "Black Snake Moan" were built inside The Pyramid after the city loaned the vacant arena to the film's producers.

© 2010 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 12

housefinch writes:

Sam Phillips would like his watch back now.

MidtownLisa writes:

Why in the world does this movie need to be remade???? Can Hollywood not come up with any original ideas anymore?

harbortwngal28 writes:

in response to MidtownLisa:

Why in the world does this movie need to be remade???? Can Hollywood not come up with any original ideas anymore?

That's a big fat 'NO'. Seen the trailers for the Nightmare on Elm Street remake yet? As radio's Drake Hall would say: "Give me a very large personal break."

RandallA writes:

Who cares if the movie is being remade? This is a good thing for the state of Tennessee if they can get it worked out.

Ian writes:

Given the situation, with Craig doing his usual fight for the 'Made in Memph' seal, with Lynn as normal out there trying to make the case for Tenn, it should all fall into place.

-The enthusiastic FilmMemphis.com should persuade.

Peace / Luck

Ian writes:

in response to Ian:

Given the situation, with Craig doing his usual fight for the 'Made in Memph' seal, with Lynn as normal out there trying to make the case for Tenn, it should all fall into place.

-The enthusiastic FilmMemphis.com should persuade.

Peace / Luck

that's .org actually.

HerbertEKookJr writes:

Am I the only one that sees the irony in governments openly bribing - I mean 'offering incentives to' - private companies like film makers, while Congress stong-armed the drug industry to quit giving 50 cent pens or $2 tote bags to clerks and others at medical offices because that would influence what treatment the patients were prescribed?

xd9x19 writes:

So who are the ones losing money when these film commissions help the movie folks "save" money? Taxpayers? Sort of like taxpayers getting asked by Big Business to pay for their playlands like the Forum.

missibunni writes:

in response to Tigertommy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I loved that movie!!!

HeyLordItsMeAgain (Inactive) writes:

Oh, yeah...like the original movie was SUCH a great one. Ick.

mybrewtube writes:

in response to housefinch:

Sam Phillips would like his watch back now.

Ha, ha... this is my favorite negative post so far.

Of course Sam Phillips had to sell Elvis Presley to cover the copyright lawsuit brought on by the Rufus Thomas song "Bear Cat", which was his own remake of Big Mama Thorton's "Hound Dog"... but... I get your point.

And it wasn't his watch. It was his ring. But kudos. That was a witty comment.

Craig

JuliusArnette writes:

On a different and more interesting note, go see the collection of ken Lecco. Born of abandonment and graced by God, we are privileged to have the finest Multiple Medium Impressionistic Modern Artist of Memphis’ in our lifetime. He has the passion of someone who has had to make his way in this world on his own and been truly successful at it. His work ethic and morals are human. His love is that of common man.

I am a huge Impressionism fan. Monet and Van Gogh are my lifetime favorites. I am pleased and feel blessed that my grandchildren will have the opportunity to enjoy their contributions to the world as I have in my lifetime. I will make sure of that.

The reason I love their works so much is because they were masters at their art and one does not need to psychoanalyze their works to see their vision and feel their passion. Add Seurat in that group as well. Love those guys!

Well, we are fortunate to have such an artist in our presence this day and time. Kenneth Lecco is that artist. Like Monet and Van Gogh, there is a mastered medium and a passionate movement within every piece of art. Although not in the same medium precisely, they are one in the same. One does not need to reach for an interpretation for any of these artist, just read their stories and you will feel their passion. As for the respects of Ken, and it is our great privileged to do so, just ask him. Every piece has a story that is filled with determinism and passion in an ever-lasting work of art.

If you have not seen Kenneth’s work, herd the stories and meanings behind them and asked him about the passions alive in his work, you are missing a shooting star that will only be seen in our lifetime. The beauty of it all is that the opportunity is strictly up to you to take advantage of. No one will force you, but your soul will be missing something that, for free, could be filled.

I encourage all to go to his gallery, or many displays of his works, read the stories then go meet one of the most beautiful people of our lifetime. Not to mention one of our neighbors. He resides, works, lives and loves right here in this day, and most importantly, in this city. What an opportunity. Wouldn’t you love to be able to say that about Monet, Van Gogh or Seurat? Don't miss this chance. He is the owner of the Cosmic Closet I believe located over on McClane in back of the Starbucks.

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