Aside from repossession firms and pink-slip manufacturers, the movie studios are some of the only companies still collecting profits as our economy craters. So why don't they seem more excited about it? According to Variety, MPAA chairman Dan Glickman is delaying the release of 2008's entertainment-industry report — an annually released document detailing the average cost to make and market a studio movie for the prior year — in the hopes of downplaying the record-breaking box office.
But why would he do such a thing? Variety says Glickman doesn't want to brag about the health of the movie business during the recession, as doing so might affect tax breaks.
And sadly, he's probably right. In January, grandstanding Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn succeeded in eliminating from the stimulus bill a $246 million provision for filmmakers and studios, and Glickman thinks that trumpeting the industry's success might prevent similar handouts from finding their way into future legislation.
As we've argued before, though, if our hapless auto manufacturers are eligible for federal money during the recession, then why shouldn't the successful makers of one of our most important exports be? 2008 was yet another record year for the Hollywood box office, and studios did it the old-fashioned way: by making products people wanted and steadily increasing prices. That's exactly the way American business is supposed to work, Congress! As long as we can afford the trillions to bail out everybody else, we see no reason we can't throw a measly $246 million at one of America's few remaining growth industries.
Glickman says the MPAA will release the report online next Tuesday, but, in the interest of keeping profit-trumpeting headlines to a minimum, it won't come with a formal announcement. We promise to happily ignore the whole thing.