By Jay Chilton, CIJ
A declared goal for the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program is to enhance the image of the state to a nationwide audience. According to the Incentive Evaluation Commission Film Enhancement Rebate Program Draft Report, “the effect on Oklahoma’s image nationwide is unclear, but likely limited.”
CIJ reviewed the films which received the rebate to highlight what national exposure, if any, the productions created for Oklahoma. Most of the movies benefiting from the tax rebate incentive garnered little exposure due to their limited release and many produced no box office ticket sales.
“For the time period from FY2011 through FY2015, the State of Oklahoma expended $14,784,055 and received a return of $1,929,854,” the report says. “Some films can be useful promotional devices, a valuable advertisement or marketing tool for a region, especially immediately after released and in cases where the film has lasting popularity. However, the consensus among academic researchers and independent state auditors is that films that lead to notable film tourism are the exception.”
In cases where the production has limited release or no box office sales―indicating a lack of viewership for the film―the promotional impact is lessened further.
CIJ’s investigation identified at least 13 feature-length productions which received a combined total of $3,706,131 in cash tax rebates yet had limited theater release, were released directly to video, or earned $0 in box office sales.
- “The Jogger” received $107,350 in rebates, earned $0 in box office sales, and produced $1,314 in video purchases.
- “Rudderless” received $469,738 in rebates, earned $56,001 in box office sales, and produced $267,274 in video purchases.
- “Mekko” received $34,082 in rebates and was given limited release at film festivals in Los Angeles, Toronto, Virginia, Stockholm, Sydney, and Montreal.
- “The Veil” received $979,696 in rebates, earned $0 in box office sales, and produced $0 in video purchases.
- “Southern Tale” received $17,844 in rebates and was given limited release.
- “Monday at 11:01” received $345,562 in rebates and earned $0 in box office sales.
- “Pax Masculina” received $73,003 in rebates and was given limited release at Comicpalooza.
- “Heartland” received $41,133 in rebates and was given limited release.
- “Let Me Make You A Martyr” received $29,945 in rebates and was given limited release at Fantasia film festival and directly to video.
- “Great Plains” received $150,056 in rebates and was given limited release directly to video.
- “The Scent of Rain and Lightning” received $764,996 in rebates and was given limited release at film festivals in Atlanta, Cleveland, Kansas City, Julien Dubuque, Newport Beach, Nashville, Dances With Films, Duluth, deadCENTER, Free State, Breckenridge, Hell’s Half Mile, SanDiego, Bend, Seneca, and Naples.
- “Forsaken” received $140,098 in rebates and was given limited release.
- “Mankiller” received $552,628 in rebates and was given limited release at film festivals in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Mill Valley.
Of the films receiving an Oklahoma tax incentive rebate since 2011, two enjoyed wide release, “August: Osage County” and “Te Ata.”
- “August: Osage County” received $4,640,598 in rebates, earned $139,915 in its opening weekend and grossed $37,738,503.
- “Te Ata” received $427,283 in rebates, earned $28,640 in its opening weekend, and grossed $73,236.