The silver screen shouldn’t be subsidized by taxpayer dollars and neither, for that matter, should the small screen. But every year, Hollywood rakes in more than a billion dollars in tax incentives from politicians to produce and shoot the next big blockbuster in their states.
A new study from the legislative watchdog in Virginia, for instance, found that the state's "film tax exemption has little effect on film location decisions, a negligible benefit to the Virginia economy, and provides a negligible return on the state's investment."
This comes after Virginia spent $47.5 million in the last five years and $14 million in 2016 alone through grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions. Plenty of other star-struck states continue to follow suit. But this is stupid and should stop.
States such as Alabama and Alaska, along with Wyoming and West Virginia, cannot compete with film powerhouses California and New York. The Virginia study found that even Georgia, which offers lavish tax incentives, barely chips market share away from the coastal movie makers. Despite offering the third-most in incentives, the best the Peach State brings in is 4 percent of film production employment.
That’s obvious. Why would a production company go somewhere rural when the scenery is cooler and the talent pool is deeper in Hollywood and New York City? Lots and lots of free money is the only reason to move.
And why should the taxpayer pony up that kind of cash on top of the already-staggering price of tickets, popcorn, and drinks? It’s not fair and it’s not defensible that taxpayer dollars should continue to flow to production companies that make movies that directly contradict and often outright mock the lives of those same taxpayers.
Looking down on the unwashed last year, the likes of Harvey Weinstein collectively made a record $11.4 billion. Mocking and sneering and moralizing, they raked in the cash from the supposedly backward moviegoers they repeatedly tried to ostracize at every Academy Awards.
Meanwhile, even duds got money.
According to a USA Today Database, Massachusetts dropped nearly $27,000 on the epic failure that was the “Ghostbusters” reboot. Florida wasted almost $1 million dollars for George Clooney’s pathetic sci-fi adventure fail, “Tomorrowland.” And worst of all, Louisiana spent almost $15 million on “Battleship” because apparently down in the bayou a movie loosely based off of a board game, starring the likes of Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, and Rihanna, was a good idea.
All of this is good taxpayer money thrown after bad films. Anyone with half a brain and a Netflix account knows this.
So let Hollywood have their awards. Let them hand each other trophies and slap each other on the back about being the nation’s moral compass. Let them do whatever the hell they want to write, shoot, and produce. But please don’t make the rest of us pay for it.