Lack of Subsidy Spooks Movie Director

The remorse is almost audible in when people talk about the loss of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie Devil to Canada, ostensibly because of the budget impasse. What this really means is that stakeholders such as film production units and, of course, Mr. Shyamalan himself are upset that more taxpayer dollars have not funded the multibillion dollar industry, even while state lawmakers are considering tax hikes on working Pennsylvanians.

The film tax credit program is unlikely to have a significant positive effect on employment and incomes in Pennsylvania. Numerous economic studies find that tax incentives for professional sports teams and facilities create no positive net gains in income and employment. A report in the Patriot News contends that the “motion picture industry” employment statistics reveal growth of a mere 556 jobs from 2002 to 2007. That’s not the bonanza some would have us believe. Ideally, lawmakers should give that money back to taxpayers and let them invest it as they see fit, rather than letting politicians pick this one bizarre industry to shower with favors and get little payoff.

If rationality is not something lawmakers ascribe to, they should watch some Shyamalan’s most recent productions. The Happening, which released in June, 2008 had terrible reviews from most critics.