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Good Morning Hollywood, October 6: Broken Tax Breaks

Terrence Malick comes to Oklahoma, but will filmmakers keep coming to Michigan?


In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, Malick comes to Oklahoma, but will filmmakers keep coming to Michigan?

It’s no secret in Hollywood that if you want the most bang for your buck when you’re making a movie out-of-state, you should go to Michigan. But the extensive subsidies and breaks that have lured productions to the state with the promise of tax credits of as much as 42 percent may be in jeopardy, if a state fiscal report has any impact. Richard Verrier says that Michigan’s Senate Fiscal Agency has prepared a report that finds a $60-million-plus shortfall between the amount of the subsidies and credits given to film and television productions, and the new tax revenue derived from those productions. The state is only getting 10 cents on the dollar for its efforts, said the agency, which concluded, “Any probable impact from the film incentives is likely to have a negligible impact on economic activity in Michigan.” Candidates will likely take notice and at least talk about it — though politicians being politicians, it's very much up in the air as to whether they'll push through any changes.  (Company Town)

The Thin Red LineReporting from the small Oklahoma town of Bartlesville, Laura Summers has some news about Terrence Malick’s untitled film currently shooting there. Of course, Malick being Malick, the news doesn’t really tell us anything about what the movie might actually be about, other than that it’s a romance. Instead, she reveals that the location director told the city council that it’s going to be a “very good project”; that it has filmed at two schools, a local residence and a summer festival; that the production generally only stays at a location for less than an hour; and that the crew is staying in Bartlesville. Hey, it’s Malick – you weren’t expected a leaked script, were you? (Tulsa World)

More Malick: Jessica Winter watches the new Criterion DVD of the director’s 1998 Best Picture nominee “The Thin Red Line” (photo above), wades through all the extras, and offers a roundup of the Malick method: he doesn’t rehearse or watch dailies, he’ll abruptly change the script or the scene, and he leaves mountains of material (and actors like Viggo Mortensen and Billy Bob Thornton) on the cutting room floor. The rough sketch: “unavailable, cryptic, indecisive, evasive, there-but-not-there …  What emerges isn't a group of people striving to fulfill an artist's vision, but rather striving to figure out what that vision might be.”  (Slate)

David Poland thinks that it’s crazy to release a movie called “Life as We Know It,” because movies with the word lifein the title don’t make money. He offers 11 examples, from Nia Vardalos’ “My Life in Ruins” to Angelina Jolie’s “Life, or Something Like It.” But surely there must be examples of successful movies that use the word, right? How about “A Bug’s Life?”  “It’s a Wonderful Life?” “Monty Python’s Life of Brian?” Roberto Benigni’s Oscar-winner “Life Is Beautiful?” On second thought, never mind. (The Hot Blog)