The budget for The Avengers was a hefty $220 million, but a portion of it was defrayed by $22 million in subsidies that Marvel received from the state of New Mexico. Much of the film was shot at various locations around Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the state has decided to provide a 25 percent rebate for any film or television production done within its borders.
That New Mexico managed to find $22 million to subsidize a major motion picture should raise some eyebrows, considering that, in the last few years, it has cut funding for services for the elderly and the disabled, preschool, higher education, and its state workforce. "We could have spent that $22 million on all kinds of things, like education for our children. We could have spent it on roads,” said New Mexico state Rep. Dennis Kintigh (R).
Admittedly, taxpayer funds go all sorts of places that don't directly benefit taxpayers and their families, such as congresspeople's salaries, military development and operations, or scientific research.
In 2010, 43 states spent $1.5 billion on film and TV subsidies. Of the nine films that were nominated for best picture in 2012, five received state subsidies, including The Help, Moneyball and The Descendents.
And thus one could argue that as movies are made for audiences, the use of taxpayer funds may be justified as an investment into services for the people, the same as city pools and parks.
"State film subsidies are a wasteful, ineffective, and unfair instrument of economic development. While they appear to be a “quick fix” that provides jobs and business to state residents with only a short lag, in reality they benefit mostly non-residents, especially well-paid non-resident film and TV professionals.
Fair enough. I haven't seen any advantages to living in Florida as a budding filmmaker, when few permanent or paying jobs are available.
Even the film industry’s lobbying arm, the Motion Picture Association of America, can’t find any hard data to support its contention that film subsidies help a state succeed economically. In fact, a recent report by the MPAA in defense of film subsidies cited only a hypothetical $10 million production, not a real film, as evidence that subsidies work.
Well, it is the MPAA...they operate on loose rules and hypotheticals.