Taxpayer advocate: 'Economic health is not created when people's labor is used to make things nobody wants'
When "Love and Honor" was filmed in Ann Arbor in 2011, it received statewide media attention. But when the movie was released, the film was more like its original working title, "AWOL."
The movie was released March 22 to two theaters and grossed $2,815 in its opening weekend. As of April 11, it has grossed $16,769, according to Box Office Mojo.
Michigan taxpayers gave the "Love and Honor" production company $1.6 million in film incentives for $4.1 million in spending in the state.
Entertainment One Films said "Freaky Deaky," which starred Christian Slater, never got a chance to be seen in a theater. It was released straight to DVD on Feb. 26. The movie received $2.8 million in film incentives for $7.8 million in spending.
"Moviegoers don't want to see the film that Michigan taxpayers are paying to see," said Leon Drolet, chair of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. "Economic health is not created when people's labor is used to make things nobody wants."
Drolet said he doesn't agree with the idea that bad movies still result in jobs.
To illustrate the point, he told a popular story about the late economist Milton Friedman.
Friedman was said to be on a trip in Asia when the vehicle he was traveling in was stopped while workers were digging a canal. Noticing that the men were using shovels instead of tractors and heavy machinery, Friedman asked a government bureaucrat about it. The bureaucrat explained that this work was a "jobs program." Friedman said he thought they were trying to build a canal and famously said, "If its jobs you want, why not give them spoons?"
"If government thinks jobs is making products nobody wants, we might as well take the money and make mud pies," Drolet said.
As Michigan Capitol Confidential has previously reported, the number of jobs that existed before the film tax incentive program to today has remained largely the same at about 6,000.
Michelle Begnoche, spokeswoman for the Michigan Film Office, didn't respond to requests for comment.