Governor Cuomo Announces Marshall to Film in Buffalo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Hero Films, Chestnut Ridge Productions and Hudlin Entertainment have chosen to film the Thurgood Marshall biopic, Marshall, in Buffalo. The courtroom thriller focuses on a young Thurgood Marshall prior to becoming the first African American Supreme Court Justice and his handling of a case that proved important to the Civil Rights Movement. Pre-production is already underway and filming is set to begin in late May, primarily in Niagara Square at the Dillon Courthouse, in the heart of downtown Buffalo. The production expects to spend at least $4.5 million, hire more than 400 crew and extras, and book an estimated 1,100 hotel room nights.
“Thurgood Marshall was a giant of the civil rights movement and the hosting of this film memorializing his great work is an honor,” Governor Cuomo said. “This production will help create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars for the local economy, providing even more momentum to Buffalo’s economic resurgence and adding one more reason why this is a city on the move.”
Marshall is the latest major film production to tout New York State’s Film Production Tax Credit Program as a major factor in the selection of the Empire State as a filming location. Since 2004, 1,336 film and television projects have participated in the program and are estimated to have generated more than one million new hires and $20 billion in new spending in New York State. In 2015 alone, a record 203 film and television projects applied for the program, estimated to generate 187,764 new hires and $3.05 billion in new spending statewide.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “We are very excited to have a major film like Marshall choosing a world-class city like Buffalo. The State’s Film Tax Production Credit coupled with the incredible attributes of New York State make for an unbeatable duo.”
Paula Wagner, Owner of Chestnut Ridge Productions and producer of Marshall said, “Reginald Hudlin, our director, and I look forward to filming Marshall in Buffalo. Its iconic architecture and environment lend themselves perfectly to recreate a time and place to tell this story best. The State’s production tax credit program was also a prominent factor while we were choosing where to film, and it made Upstate New York an even more attractive place to shoot. We look forward to working with the community of Buffalo and New York State as we prepare to begin filming the production of Marshall in this great city.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “Thurgood Marshall was one of our nation’s greatest legal minds and the choice to film the Thurgood Marshall biopic, Marshall, in Buffalo, New York is a tremendous honor. It is also another great opportunity to bring the eyes of the nation on the transformation taking place in Buffalo as we continue to build on the work we’ve been doing with Governor Andrew Cuomo to support growing industries, including Buffalo’s emerging Film industry, which generates millions of dollars to the local economy. We are demonstrating that Buffalo is a great place to film a movie and we will continue to work hard to bring even more productions to our city, which will create good jobs and drive more economic growth.”
Buffalo has emerged as a popular film destination as a result of provisions championed by Governor Cuomo, designed to drive more productions to locations in Upstate New York, like Buffalo, by offering an additional 10 percent credit on qualified labor costs for films that shoot or do post production in most Upstate counties. Buffalo has attracted a variety of productions in recent years, including smaller independent films and major motion pictures, with films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 shooting in the city last year, generating jobs and millions of dollars for the local economy. When coming to a city like Buffalo, productions such as Marshall and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 generate a significant boost for many local businesses; in particular, downtown hotels, restaurants, vehicle and equipment rental companies, and other service industry businesses.
Marshall focuses on a case early in the career of the man who would later help to desegregate the nation’s public schools with his victory in Brown vs Board of Education, and then become the first African American Supreme Court Justice in United States history. While the country was on the verge of World War II in 1940, Marshall is sent by a nearly bankrupt NAACP to Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial that quickly became tabloid fodder. In need of a high profile victory but muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall is partnered with Samuel Friedman, a young Jewish lawyer who had never tried a case like this before. Marshall and Friedman struggle against a hostile storm of fear and prejudice, driven to discover the truth in the sensationalized trial which helped set the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement to come.
Reginald Hudlin, who produced this year’s Academy Awards and the critically acclaimed Django Unchained, will direct Marshall. The film will star Chadwick Boseman, whose credits include recently playing two African American icons – Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get On Up – as well as Josh Gad, who has starred in comedic films and also provided the voice for Olaf in the worldwide box-office hit Frozen.
Marshall is produced by Paula Wagner (Mission Impossible 1, 2 and 3), Jonathan Sanger and Reginald Hudlin, and line producer Chris Bongirne, who has interfaced with representatives from the City of Buffalo and the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development. The film is written by Mike Koskoff and Jake Koskoff.