New Mexico & Ohio Paid $30.5 Million to Finance “The Avengers”

New Mexico & Ohio Paid $30.5 Million to Finance “The Avengers”


New Mexico & Ohio Paid $30.5 Million in CA$H to Finance “The Avengers”

Marvel’s blockbuster film The Avengers has already raked in over $1 billion at the box office.  It is shattering records left and right and could end being the highest grossing film of all time.  The film’s budget was estimated between $170 and $220 million.  Much of the superhero blockbuster was filmed in two states: New Mexico and Ohio.  Why?  Not because the film is set in either location.  Rather, the taxpayers in New Mexico and Ohio, in effect, were executive producers willing to finance the movie.

New Mexico taxpayers covered $22.4 million of the budget and Ohio taxpayers chipped in another $8.1 million.  In effect, $30.5 million of the budget on The Avengers was paid for with public money.  Both New Mexico and Ohio offer fully refundable tax credits, which the New Mexico film office boasts are “cash”:

Is it a rebate or a credit?  Technically, New Mexico has a “refundable tax credit.” In other words, cash for the full amount – with no brokering required. TRD [Taxation & Revenue Department] literally sends you a check or deposits the amount into your bank account.

Is the credit on the full amount or just the tax portion?  The full amount. Example: you spend $95.00 and $5.00 on tax for a total of $100.00. You get $25.00 back.

Since taxpayers in New Mexico and Ohio covered between 15-20% of the entire budget on The Avengers, the film’s stellar earnings should net these two producers a huge share of the profits, right?  Wrong.  According to IMDB, there were nine producers and neither state is on the list.  The taxpayers in New Mexico and Ohio who paid for a significant chunk of the cost to make the superhero movie, sadly, will not get to share in any of the profits.  And that sucks for New Mexico…

Just over two million (2,082,224) people live in New Mexico, which means the per capita cost for every single man, woman and child to pay for the $22.4 million cash payout to Disney’s (which owns Marvel Studios) blockbuster was $10.75 each.  I seriously doubt that had Disney asked for $10.75 from each New Mexican individually, they all would have forked over the cash.  Frankly, I doubt if even one person would agree to pay them.

In its most recent theatrical statistics report, the MPAA points out that compared to sporting events and theme parks, a night out at the movies “provides the most affordable entertainment option, costing under $40 dollars for a family of four.”  In New Mexico, almost 20% of the population are living below the poverty line and per capita income is $34,575.  In effect, a typical New Mexico family of four needs an affordable entertainment option more than ever.  Rather than enjoy a night out to see The Avengers for less than $40, the family of four in New Mexico is now cash-strapped because it cost them $10.75 each ($43 total) to help Disney finance the budget.  Yeah….that sounds like a great deal for New Mexico.  And that $10.75 per capita cost is just for that one film, The Avengers, that shot in the state in 2011.

The amount of cash paid out to all productions in 2011, however, was a whopping $96.2 million.  The per capita cost for each man, woman and child living in New Mexico to fund the film incentive program in 2011 was $46.20 each!  If you apply the $96.2 million cash payout to just the 927,785 people in the New Mexico workforce (i.e., those who pay taxes), the per capita cost skyrockets to $103.68.  A New Mexican earning minimum wage ($7.50 per hour) at a full-time job would have to work almost 300 hours for their income taxes (4.7%) to cover their $103 share of the film incentive cost.  Madness.

In 2011, the New Mexico movie studio where The Avengers was filmed booked 35,000 hotel room nights for crew and cast working at the facility.  Translation: many of the 500 people who worked onThe Avengers were not New Mexico residents.  Even if you assume all 500 jobs went to state residents, the cost-per-job was just over $44,000!  For just one job, on just one film, $44,000 cost to New Mexico taxpayers.  I would like to see the film backers explain to the 20% of the New Mexico population living below the poverty line that it was a wise use of public money.

Something is fundamentally wrong in America when over $30 million in public taxpayer funds is given to one of the richest and most profitable companies on earth (Disney) to finance one of the most profitable movies in history.

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