Earlier this year, we told you that the state's entire film-incentives budget was earmarked for a Hallmark Channel show called When Calls the Heart. But things have changed since then. According to film commissioner Donald Zuckerman, the producers of the show convinced Hallmark to buy more episodes -- and when Colorado didn't have the money to incentivize all of them, the show decided to film in Canada instead.
But Zuckerman isn't despairing. Instead, he's moving on to find other projects that would love to film here.
"The good news is you're still going to see a lot of production here," Zuckerman says. "It will be more diverse. It won't all be in one place."
Tomorrow, he's planning to ask the Colorado Economic Development Commission to approve incentives for a golf movie called The Squeeze, which Zuckerman says is being pitched as "The Sting meets Tin Cup meets Caddyshack." The film's director is a man named Terry Jastrow, a Denver native, according to the Internet Movie Database, who worked at ABC Sports for 24 years and produced Super Bowl XIX, six different Olympic Games and many, many golf tournaments. Jastrow is also the husband of actress Anne Archer, who played Michael Douglas's wife in Fatal Attraction.
The Squeeze's total budget is $3.3 million, and the movie is projected to spend $1.75 million in Colorado, Zuckerman says. Under Colorado's new film incentives program, movies that hire at least 50 percent of their crew in Colorado can qualify for a 20 percent rebate on the money spent here and a guarantee that the state will back up to 20 percent of the producer's bank loan for a fee. The Squeeze is interested in both, Zuckerman says.
But it's not the only project in the pipeline. Even when all of Colorado's budget was tied up in the Hallmark deal, the state was able to attract two well-known productions, including the sequel to this little film....
Fast & Furious 7 -- the latest installment in the blockbuster series -- will film a "big road-racing scene with stunt drivers in one of our mountain passes," Zuckerman says. And the movie will do it even though it doesn't qualify for the incentives program, because it's bringing its own special crew and doesn't plan to hire locals. Zuckerman says filming will begin in five weeks and continue for about three or four weeks. The film is expected to spend about $7 million shooting the scene in Colorado, he says.
And the ABC show Extreme Weight Loss is currently filming thirteen two-hour episodes for its fourth season at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Aurora. The show documents the lives of people struggling with obesity for an entire year as they work with specialists and trainers to lose weight. It's also being produced without incentives because by the time the producers decided to film at the Anschutz center, Colorado had already promised its entire budget to the Hallmark show, Zuckerman says. But they decided to come anyway, he explains, because "they were really in love with Anschutz."
Opened last April with help from billionaire Phil Anschutz, the center on the Anschutz Medical Campus conducts research and also offers health assessments and weight-loss programs for a fee, says executive director Dr. Jim Hill, a world-renowned expert on obesity. Though he can't spill any secrets about the show's fourth season, he says he likes the premise because it's not a contest; instead, it's an extreme version of what anyone should do to lose weight. "Everything these people are doing is what we tell people to do anyway," he says. The big difference is that, "their job is losing weight."
The participants will spend the first ninety days of their "weight loss journeys" at the center, and the center's medical director, Dr. Holly Wyatt, will be featured on the show. Hill says he believes there are three reasons why Extreme Weight Loss decided to film there. "I hope the first is that we're the best in the world at weight loss," he says. "Two is that they came and saw our new building and thought, 'Oh my gosh! This is great.' And three is that Colorado has this reputation as the leanest state."
Will that reputation help the show's participants? Stay tuned to find out.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
More from our Television & Film archive: "Videos: Ten most memorable Denver commercials online."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at email@example.com