Friday, February 11, 2011

The Movie "Cedar Rapids" Was Actually Filmed in Ann Arbor, Michigan? Reason? "Film Credit Crack"

According to the Michigan Film Office website, 129 movies have been filmed in Michigan since 2008, including 48 in 2010 ("Gulliver's Travels), 43 in 2009 ("Capitalism: A Love Story"), and 38 in 2008 ("Gran Torino").  

It might seem curious that so many movies are now being filmed in Michigan, a state known more for its automotive industry, failing cities, flat landscape and cold weather than as a top movie destination.  And it might also seem curious that a movie being released this weekend titled "Cedar Rapids" that supposedly takes place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was actually instead filmed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.   

Well, it's not so curious once you know that Michigan offers filmmakers a 42% refund or tax credit on their direct production costs in Michigan.  Spend $10 million making a movie in Michigan and you could get $4,200,000 back!  With that kind of taxpayer money available, who wouldn't make a movie in Michigan? Even Michael Moore decided to cash in on Michigan tax credits when he filmed parts of his movie "Capitalism: A Love Story"  in Michigan.

The state of Iowa used to have some tax incentives available for filming there, but they were being phased out around the time that the movie "Cedar Rapids" was originally going to be filmed on location in 2009 in the movie's namesake Cedar Rapids.  So Ann Arbor was selected for filming, because it's comparable in size to Cedar Rapids, and more importantly because Michigan taxpayers would foot the bill for 42% of the film's production costs.  

Fortunately, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has been exposing the Michigan Film program as a complete boondoggle for Michigan taxpayers.  Even the State Senate Fiscal Agency questioned the program when it estimated that the state gave out credits of almost $150 million during a period when it only took in $26.6m in taxes from filmmakers, for an estimated net loss to the state of $122 million.  

Here's one of the Mackinac Center's first studies exposing the Michigan film program for generating net losses to the state.  Also fortunate is that Michigan's new governor Rick Snyder wants to end the state's "film credit candy," which is maybe more like "film credit crack" for filmmakers, like the producers of "Cedar Rapids." 


At 2/11/2011 5:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

One wonders what Michael Moore was on about with "Capitalism A love Story." Where, in America, is the Capitalism? I see plenty of subsidy-ism.

At 2/12/2011 12:27 AM, Blogger aorod said...

Welfare for unions.

At 2/12/2011 3:05 AM, Blogger James said...

When you add up all the government incentives, tax breaks, bailouts, etc this economy looks more like a command economy than a free enterprise economy. Not a clumsily soviet style command economy with a government bureaucrat issuing direct commands about the disposition of resources but a very sophisticated command economy where government bureaucrats coordinate direct loans, subsidizes, tax breaks, and regulations to influence the economy rather than exercise direct control. Lobbying government has become an important source of profits.

It is hard to find a fast food place that does not have some form of government money, significant concession, or guarantee.

At 2/12/2011 8:51 AM, Blogger The MPA infotrain said...

On the other hand are incentives a new thing? haven't they been used for other industries? How about Sports Arena's? Who's money is used to finance them in say Detroit...and how often do those in Traverse City get to use it??? One wonders why a Governor who says Jobs Jobs Jobs would try to kill an new industry that has in fact kept people working both within the industry and out side of it. Everytime a film rolls into town at last 60 vendors benefit. Last Summer 14 films shot here you do the math! The film industry fired up many other industries and keep money flowing into individual communities for months. In this economy one needs strong industries. Not rhetoric and echos of critics.

At 2/12/2011 12:21 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...


"Everytime a film rolls into town at last 60 vendors benefit. Last Summer 14 films shot here you do the math! The film industry fired up many other industries and keep money flowing into individual communities for months."

Yes, let's do the math. Mackinac Center for Public Policy has estimated that the state has paid out $122 million more than it took in in taxes from film companies. Do you believe that amount has been recovered through taxes paid by those individuals and communities that benefited from the film companies being in Michigan? If not, then it's a net loss to the State of Michigan, which means a net loss to the people of Michigan. It's just another example of all taxpayers subsidizing a small group. This level of subsidy would be misguided at any time, but when the state is worse than broke, it borders on insanity.

At 2/14/2011 7:01 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from MPA Infotrain: "On the other hand are incentives a new thing?"

No. Government bureaucrats have been feathering their own nest with tax payer money since the beginning. Do you honestly think that citing other examples of such corruption will somehow justify your favored example?

You're taking money from one group of people who earned it and giving it to others who haven't earned it, and calling it prosperity.

At 2/15/2011 7:48 PM, Blogger Dr. Detroit said...

you're an idot


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