Budget & Tax

Many films receiving Oklahoma tax rebate produce no box office receipts

November 15, 2017

Jay Chilton

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.

Of the films receiving an Oklahoma tax incentive rebate since 2011, two enjoyed wide release, “August: Osage County” and “Te Ata.”