Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Kingsized Economic Impact

I went to the movies over the Thanksgiving weekend. My girlfriend wanted to see “Fred Claus” but her son and my kids wanted to see Stephen King's “The Mist” We decided to see “The Mist”. If you are going to pay $8.00 per person to see a movie it might as well partially benefit a Maine legend and natural resource.

We walked in a little late but I could immediately feel my stomach tighten, my blood pressure rise and my pulse quicken. Oh, it wasn’t the suspense and horror of the movie that had me squirming in my seat. It was the thought that Louisiana was being passed off as Maine right before my eyes through movie magic and that the $17,000,000 budget for the movie was sucked out of Maine and blanketed Louisiana like “The Mist” because Louisiana has better incentives and infrastructure for film production.

Because most Stephen King stories are based in Maine I started thinking, “What would the economic impact have been to Maine if every Stephen King movie had been shot here?” After a little research I’ve come to the conclusion that Mr. King is one of the states most important, renewable economic resources.

I found 72 Movies based on Stephen King stories at:

Of those 72 movies I found the budget estimates for 38 of them. I totaled that the budgets for all 38 films. This came to $605,200,000. I then used that average of $15,926,316 per film to estimate the total budget for the remaining 34. That total came to $541,494,737. Combining both amounts gives us a total budget, for all Stephen King based films, of $1,146,694,737.

You have to kind of stop and catch your breath at this point to be able to think clearly when the numbers get this big, like the protagonist stopping to collect himself in a King movie.

The Association of Film Commissioners International estimates that on a medium sized feature film 1/3 to ½ the budget is directly spent on the local economy. The percentage increases when a state has more facilities and trained professionals to support film production. Maine does not have a sophisticated film infrastructure so I used the lower figure of .33 to estimate that, minus the money from King films that were shot in Maine, the state has missed out on $378,409,263 in direct spending on the Maine economy from Stephen King based films.

As I write this I am imaging people all over the State of Maine reading this information and literally having their heads explode because we have missed out on a huge economic opportunity created from the mind of one man.

Mr. King has done everything he can to help the State of Maine realize its economic potential from film and television production. I hope we can all agree that the state would certainly benefit from this type of economic activity and that the next Stephen King is ready to leave the State of Maine if the economy doesn’t improve.

I think I’ll propose my story idea to Mr. King’s office and maybe we’ll be able to film real Mainers, in Maine with their heads exploding as they read my blog. At least it will be good for the economy!

*Below is a chart of films based on Stephen King stories with there release dates and estimated budgets.

Film Year Budget
The Mist 2007 $17,000,000
1408 2007 $25,000,000
Apt Pupil 1998 $4,300,000
Bag of Bones 2006 Estimated
Boogeyman, The 1995 $20,000,000
Carrie 1976 $1,800,000
Cat's Eye 1985 $6,000,000
Children of the Corn 1984 $3,000,000
Children of the Corn II: 1993 Estimated
Children of the Corn III 1994 Estimated
Children Of The Corn IV: 1996 Estimated
Children Of The Corn V: 1998 Estimated
Children Of The Corn 666: 1999 Estimated
Children Of The Corn: Revelation 2001 Estimated
Christine 1983 $4,000,000
Creepshow 1982 $6,500,000
Creepshow 2 1987 Estimated
Cujo 1983 $5,000,000
Dark Half, The 1993 $15,000,000
Dead Zone, The 1983 $10,000,000
Desperation 2005 $7,500,000
Dolan's Cadillac Estimated
Dolores Claiborne 1994 Estimated
Dreamcatcher 2003 $68,000,000
Firestarter 1984 $15,000,000
Firestarter: Rekindled (Miniseries)2002 $10,000,000
Ghosts 1997 Estimated
Golden Years 1990 Estimated
Green Mile, The 1999 $60,000,000
Hearts in Atlantis 2001 $31,000,000
It 1990 Estimated
Langoliers, The (Shot in Maine) 1995 Estimated
Lawnmower Man, The 1992 $10,000,000
Mangler, The 1995 Estimated
Maximum Overdrive 1986 $10,000,000
Misery 1990 $20,000,000
Needful Things 1993 Estimated
Night Flier 1997 $4,300,000
Paranoid (1990) 1990 Estimated
Paranoid (2001) 2001 Estimated
Pet Sematary (Shot in Maine) 1989 $11,500,000
Pet Sematary II 1992 Estimated
Quicksilver Highway 1997 $4,300,000
Rage, The: Carrie 2 1999 $21,000,000
Return to Salem's Lot 1987 $12,000,000
Revelations of 'Becka Paulson, Th 2000 Estimated
Rose Madder scrapped Estimated
Rose Red 2002 Estimated
Running Man, The 1987 $27,000,000
Secret Window 2004 $40,000,000
Salem's Lot 1979 $4,000,000
Shawshank Redemption, The 1994 $25,000,000
Shining, The 1980 $19,000,000
Shining, The 1997 $23,000,000
Silver Bullet 1985 $7,000,000
Sleepwalkers 1992 Estimated
Sometimes They Come Back 1991 $3,000,000
Sometimes They Come Back.. Again 1996 $3,000,000
Sometimes They Come Back..For More 1998 Estimated
Stand By Me 1986 $8,000,000
Stand, The 1994 Estimated
Storm of the Century 1999 $30,000,000
Strawberry Spring 2001 Estimated
Stud City 2000 Estimated
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie 1990 Estimated
Thinner (Shot in Maine) 1996 $14,000,000
This Is Horror From the Archives
of Stephen King's World Of Horror 1994 Estimated
This Is Horror II From the Archives
of Stephen King's World Of Horror 1994 Estimated
Tommyknockers, The 1993 Estimated
Trucks 1997 Estimated
Woman in the Room, The 1983 Estimated
World of Horror 1989 Estimated
Total of 38 films with budgets $605,200,000
Average Budget $15,926,316
34 Films multiplied by $15,926,316 ave. $541,494,737
Total Budget for all 72 King Films $1,146,694,737
Direct Spend on local economies $378,409,263

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Foster Care System for Maine Film

Victoria Rowell was born in May of 1959 as a ward of the State of Maine. Her unmarried, aristocratic and mentally ill mother was incapable of taking care of her and her unknown black father was simply not around. This beginning, in and of itself, has been the demise of many children born into the system of state appointed care.

For Vickie it was actually the first of a series of events that on the surface seemed tragic and in the end proved to be lucky turning points that would ultimately converge to enrich her life in a way that very few of us are fortunate to experience.

Today at 48, Victoria Rowell is an award winning actress and author who credits the deep love and commitment of the foster women who raised her for building her self-esteem, so that she could not only tolerate her foster care life, but revel in it and excel because of it.

As I spoke with Victoria in November of 2007 it was clear that, even over the phone, I was talking to a passionate, intelligent woman with great focus that has a deep drive to tell her life story so that other children in the same situation can dream and believe in themselves.

The promotional tour for her award winning book “The Women Who Raised Me” has kept her on the road for almost 200 days since the book’s release in April of 2007. The results have been amazing as over 100,000 copies have been sold. “The Women Who Raised Me” is also published in Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria and a paperback version set for release in the spring of 2008 guarantee that her inspirational story will be told again and again around the globe.

Home Box Office is currently considering the book to option the movie rights.

Sounds like this would be a great movie to shoot in Maine, hire Maine people and tell a wonderful Maine story. Unfortunately, as much as Victoria would love to see that happen, she will have little control over where the film is shot. If HBO chooses to option the story they will have complete control over where the film is shot and the construction of the story.

Because Maine can be replicated through movie magic in states that have passed deeper incentives, even Victoria’s drive and passion to have the potential film shot in Maine will have a limited impact.

When Victoria was born a group of concerned citizens came together over the course of her life to advocate for her. Today there is a group of Maine citizens advocating for the film industry in Maine and ultimately for Victoria and her story. They are negotiating for additional film incentives so that we can ensure that beautiful, empowering stories like “The Women Who Raised Me” can be filmed over and over again in Maine, employing Maine citizens in well paying jobs and branding Maine as the wonderful place that it is to live and raise a family.

I would challenge you to purchase of copy of “The Women Who Raised Me”, read it and ask yourself if this story embodies the independent and supportive spirit of Maine people. Then think about what a tragedy it would be if the film version is shot in another state. Hopefully, this process will prompt you to call or write your state senator and legislator encouraging them to vote for additional film incentives.

If we all chip in we can accomplish the same thing that Victoria Rowell’s foster parents accomplished with their love and devotion to Victoria.

We can all become the foster parents of film in Maine and help to build the self- esteem and economic stability of every citizen in Maine.