The TV show “Nashville” may finally be ending, but taxpayers have been stuck with the tab for this and other “flops,” conservative think tank says in a new report.
The Beacon Center of Tennessee released the “Calling Cut on Film Incentives” report Wednesday to decry the bad “investments” the state had made in spending tax dollars on shows, movies and commercials.
“Nashville” is only one example highlighted in the report. The show, on the eve of its series finale, has been canceled twice in three years and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, the Beacon Center said. The current home is CMT, which picked it up after ABC dropped it.
Beacon Center CEO Justin Owen said, “While we are against all forms of corporate welfare, film incentives have unquestionably proven to have the worst return on investment of any type of handout. Studies show that film incentives have a return on investment of anywhere from just seven cents per dollar to 28 cents per dollar, an investment that only the government would make.
“It seems like Tennessee government officials were throwing darts blindly when they picked what productions to subsidize,” Owens said. “In fact, over 40% of the films that received tax dollars actually made less money at the box office than what taxpayers gave them in incentives. Whether it is the TV show ‘Nashville,’ which has cost us upwards of $45 million in tax dollars and has now been canceled twice due to low viewership, or movies like ‘Bailey,’ which cost us nearly ten times more in tax dollars than what it made at the box office, Tennesseans are getting a raw deal with film subsidies. It is time for us as a state to call cut on film incentives.”
“Bailey” lost $272,331. It had a subsidy of $299,343 but made only $27,012 at the box office, the Beacon report said.
The report states that Tennessee began its Hollywood Star chase by forming the Entertainment Commission (TEC) in 1987 to help “attract and bring to this state the production activities of film, television, record and other producers of entertainment. The state ramped its efforts up in 2006 with the Visual Content Act, which created a fund “for the purpose of providing incentive grants that encourage the production of films, movies, television pilots or programs in the state of Tennessee.” Since then, TEC has distributed over $51 million in cash grants, with another $23.6 million committed or obligated to be spent in the near future.