State Film Subsidies a Reel Pain

Officials not so keen about deals like $27M bill for Brad Pitt movie
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 12, 2008 9:43 AM CDT
Actor Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men," which was produced with the help of tax breaks in New Mexico.   (AP Photo/Richard Foreman)
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(Newser) – Talk about bad timing. State governments are having second thoughts about incredibly costly tax-incentive programs that have encouraged Hollywood filmmakers to shoot locally, the New York Times reports. While backers of the programs say they create jobs, other analysts argue that the system, which offers tax credits to producers, is too expensive, especially at a time when taxpayers are reckoning with a financial crisis. Louisiana, for one, is eating a $27 million tab for a Brad Pitt film.

What’s more, the system has been marred by abuse. With 40 states involved, the program is a boon to Hollywood. But “with this much money involved, there’s going to be a temptation to hype budgets” to expand tax credits, said a lawyer. Louisiana’s former film commissioner could face 15 years in prison for inflating budgets in exchange for bribes.