Tax incentives for filmmaking are getting critical reviews

BOSTON – A new “Ghostbusters” movie filmed in Boston two years ago with the hopes of rebooting a beloved franchise. Instead, the box office dud has unintentionally played a role in giving new life to efforts to rid Massachusetts of its film industry subsidies.

The state Senate has proposed a budget paring back what’s considered among the most generous of the 36 states currently offering tax incentives to film companies.

And some critics of the program have pointed to recent big budget Hollywood films like “Ghostbusters” –which scored one of largest tax benefits in the program’s history at $26.7 million — as prime examples of why the benefit needs to go.

“There is no reason to believe that the tax credits the state reportedly gave to the producers of this film were the most effective way to promote jobs and economic development,” said Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center that’s long called for scrapping the program.

David Hartman, head of the Massachusetts Production Coalition that advocates for the local film industry, countered that the economic impact of major movie productions like “Ghostbusters” are felt many times over, not just from the hundreds of temporary production jobs they create but the spending of that crew on local goods and services.

He wasn’t able to readily quantify the economic impact of “Ghostbusters,” and the film’s producers didn’t immediately comment.

Featuring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, “Ghostbusters” was among 61 productions issued more than $61 million in credits last year. Others included “Central Intelligence” ($11.3 million), “The Finest Hours” ($14.4 million) and “Live By Night” ($1.1 million), preliminary state Department of Revenue data shows.

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, the Westport Democrat who proposed curtailing the credit, says his qualm isn’t with “Ghostbusters” specifically.

Too much of the program’s benefit, he says, is flowing to out-of-state companies and being used to supplement the…

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