A boxing movie starring the famed metro Detroit rapper is the previously unidentified film that earlier this year applied — and then withdrew its application — for $8.9 million in Michigan film incentives.
“Southpaw,” about a welterweight boxer battling to put his life and career back together, sought incentives in the first quarter of 2012 as “Untitled MGM Project.” Its estimated in-state spending was about $30.7 million, according to the application.
But the application was withdrawn for “a talent issue,” as the Michigan Film Office put it in the minutes of a March public meeting.
That talent, Eminem, is busy elsewhere, according to the real Slim Shady’s camp.
“He’s focusing on his music right now, so while he’s doing that, while he’s in that space, he wanted to put this on hold for the time being,” said Eminem spokesman Dennis Dennehy.
“Southpaw” is described in the application as having a script that takes place in Detroit and the city’s immediate surrounding areas. It projected employing more than 200 crew members and more than 9,000 extras.
It also listed Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s longtime manager, and Stuart Parr, co-producer of Eminem’s 2002 “8 Mile,” as well as Alan Riche and Peter Riche as producers.
The delay doesn’t mean the door is closed permanently on Detroit as a possible location.
“What I’m told is when the film does get made, the plan is that the bulk of it will be shot in Michigan. That was always the understanding,” said Dennehy.
“Southpaw” had just gotten back on track. In October, Variety reported that the project — which the studio Dreamworks had put the brakes on in August — would instead be made by MGM and distributed by Sony Pictures. Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) would direct a screenplay by Kurt Sutter (FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”).
Sutter told Deadline.com in late 2010 that he had taken meetings for several years with Eminem’s producing partners, and that boxing seemed like fittingly symbolic for the rapper’s own struggles.
MGM couldn’t be reached for comment today.
The Eminem project was the largest of nine movies that applied for the state’s incentives in the first quarter. A roughly $276,000 movie called “Beside Still Waters” is the only project approved thus far under the $25 million in incentives available for fiscal 2012.
“Southpaw” would be a return to the big-screen for the Detroit rapper, whose only previous leading role was in “8 Mile.”