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Cleveland thievery: ‘Draft Day’ no longer to be filmed in Buffalo

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

“Draft Day,” a Lionsgate Films football comedy expected to cast Kevin Costner as Buffalo Bills general manager, will now be shot in Cleveland with the movie’s focus shifting to the Browns.

The Buffalo News’ Mark Sommer reported that Cleveland’s bid to Lionsgate reigned victorious largely because it was $3.5 million cheaper than Buffalo’s offer.

For a movie rated by The Film Stage as the “best un-produced screenplay of 2012”—a list that TBN reporter T.J. Pignataro says is oft-predictive of commercial success—this qualifies as a major missed opportunity for Buffalo, even though the city and state’s political leaders pushed hard for the role.

Sommer passes along a quote from Tim Clark of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission, who concluded that financials were the difference in changing the proposed setting.

“At the end of the day, it was a money thing. I think [‘Draft Day’ director] Mr. [Ivan] Reitman really wanted to shoot here, but it just came down to the cost factor. What we were told is that the Cleveland incentives were better,” Clark said.

Clark’s second quote, however, strikes a bitter chord with Buffalonians: “I feel the worse for the Buffalo Bills, because they worked real hard to convince the film company that Buffalo was the place to shoot this, and that Buffalo was America’s team.” Ouch.

Pignataro released foreboding historical precedence for a movie intended for Buffalo would eventually be filmed elsewhere; here’s a snippet from his Jan. 12 report:

High production costs were the chief reason Matt Damon told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week that his recently released movie about hyrdrofracking, “Promised Land,” was filmed in metropolitan Pittsburgh instead of upstate New York. It also weighed heavily into why Keanu Reeves’ 2010 movie “Henry’s Crime,” which was set in Buffalo, was filmed mostly downstate.

Other films over the last decade or so, like “Bruce Almighty,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Factory,” further bolster the evidence. “Quite honestly, Buffalo is one of the most expensive places to shoot a union movie,” one source told The News. “These guys would come here and shoot here if they could justify it.”

Buffalo remains a city that’s growing accustomed to being skipped—we’ve been through four-straight Super Bowl losses, the most notable “runners-up” story in professional sports history.

It hurts a little less when the beneficiary is another struggling Rust Belt city, Cleveland, though the Browns’ football history is equally—if not more miserable—than the Bills’.

The professional football team relocated to Baltimore in 1995, then was re-established in Cleveland in 1999, but success didn’t result from the destruction of the deteriorating Cleveland Browns Stadium and the renewal of the franchise.

Cleveland has only advanced to the post-season once since 1999, but that’s still one more time than the floundering Bills in that same span.

Either way, both NFL franchises have grim histories, and each franchise has an argument for “most dismal recent history.” Still, it hurts more that an exciting possibility was ripped away from us because of a $3.5 million difference in a movie that should gross exponentially more.

Boo, Lionsgate Films. Boo.

TAGGED: buffalo niagara film commission, cleveland browns, draft day, kevin costner, lionsgate films, tim clark

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