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State Senator says colleagues should remember loss of Russo brothers' upcoming film

The Russo brothers were planning to make a movie here called “Cherry,” featuring “Spider Man” star Tom Holland, but pulled out over film tax credit indecision.

CLEVELAND — State Sen. Matt Dolan told Channel 3 Friday that his Republican colleagues in the State House should not forget that two of the biggest directors in the world have pulled a movie from Ohio this year because of lawmaker indecision.

Dolan is referring to this year’s budget battle, which delayed a film tax credit available to movie production companies. Filmakers evaluate such incentives when deciding whether to film in Ohio. Dolan, who chairs the Senate finance committee, helped save the movie tax credit program. It sets aside $40 million for film productions in the most recent two-year budget.

But the budget deal came too late for Joe and Anthony Russo, the director duo from Cleveland who made “Avengers: Endgame” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which was partially filmed in Cleveland. Anthony Russo told Channel 3’s Will Ujek on Thursday during a promotional visit to Northeast Ohio that uncertainty about the film tax credit forced him to pull his next project from the state.

"The budget negotiations caused a lot of hiccups in terms of how people could plan productions in Ohio, and specifically in Cleveland," Russo said. "Because of those problems, we had to come up with a Plan B because then this location wasn't viable economically. So, unfortunately we're not going to be shooting that movie here, which is kind of heartbreaking for us."

The Russo brothers were planning to make a movie here called “Cherry,” featuring “Spider Man” star Tom Holland. The movie is based on the biography of a former Army medic who has come home with post traumatic stress disorder and falls into a world of opioids and crime.

“As unfortunate as losing this picture is, maybe we can use this as an example to say folks, when you start to pull things away, that is not attracting investors to Ohio,” Dolan said. “I hope that the discussions to get the credit saved will stay fresh in everybody’s mind.”

Dolan said the lawmakers need to treat the film industry as any other industry Ohio.  

“We have to make it stable and then make it grow,” he said.   

The Cleveland Film Commission, which lobbied for the film tax credit, said in statement that the lawmakers have to make a long-term investment in the industry for it to grow:  

“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.”

Dolan said the state budget cycle makes it difficult to set aside money beyond two years.