Shuttered studio’s garage sale draws film fans

Kaylee McGhee
The Detroit News

Pontiac – The Michigan Motion Pictures Studio once filmed big-budget blockbusters, welcoming some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

Now the studio — idle since 2015 — is emptying its garages in a public two-day sale, which began Friday.

The studio is auctioning off items from former productions, ranging from furniture to props and costumes. The cash-only sale continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday inside Gate 2 on Campus Drive. Prices vary from $5 to thousands of dollars.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the gate to be let into the sale Friday morning, expecting to take home authentic items from the epics filmed in the studio, including the “Transformers” movies, “Real Steel,” “Oz the Great and Powerful” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

The majority of those who entered the auction left empty-handed, though.

“It’s disappointing to say the least,” said John Thiede, who lives Downriver. “They promoted it like they’d be selling a bunch of movie props. I expected to see lots of stuff used in movies — not stuff from some guy’s office.”

Those who did find items to take home complained there was no way to know what movie they were used in.

“There’s no certificate of authentication or anything,” said Fenton resident Aaron Workman, who purchased a prop lamp.

Workman, who was an extra in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” said he left the garage sale feeling let down.

“I went in there hoping I’d find a memento or costume I had worn during the filming or something,” he said. “But obviously that didn’t happen.”

Others who attended the event said they enjoyed seeing where the epic films were made, even if they didn’t purchase anything.

“My brother loves the ‘Transformers’ movies,” Jessie Glander, 19, said. “It’s cool he gets to see where his favorite movies were made.”

The Michigan Motion Pictures studio has sat idle since the state’s film incentive program ended.

The program, designed to attract film, TV and other media projects, was promoted by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Gov. Rick Snyder cut the program, which had cost the state more than $425 million since it began in 2008, from the state budget, triggering an exodus of filmmakers from Michigan.

In June, the Michigan Strategic Fund announced approval of a $344.5 million investment from aerospace defense contractor Williams International LLC to renovate the facility. The company plans to buy the studio and a nearby property to create a jet engine-development and testing facility.

With the studio shuttered, the garage sale gave some film geeks and movie junkies an opportunity to take home a reminder of the place that created their favorite epics.

“One of my students was an extra in ‘Oz,’ ” said Southfield resident Roberta Campion, who works as a community theater teacher. “So there’s sentiment here for them.”