A mini update: A.O. Scott has a nice review of Tower Heist in which he comments on the fake populism of a bunch of extremely rich guys standing to make a fortune by producing a movie about a bunch of blue collar guys scheming to steal $20 million from a Bernie Madoff stand-in.  And he’s right to note further that the $20 million is chump change in this league.

But unfortunately this isn’t just about symbolism.  Let’s put some numbers on it.

  • Tower Heist cost an estimated $85 million to make.
  • Ben Stiller was paid $15 million.
  • Eddie Murphy was paid $7.5 million.

New York City and state tax payers contributed $10 million, via (overlapping) tax credits.

To pick a totally random example for some perspective, New York City schools just laid off 777 staff, including 438 teacher’s aides.

Ben Stiller is a New Yorker by birth and is involved in a bunch of charitable causes–including  rebuilding Haiti and saving the dolphins.  I wonder how he feels about this?

ps. Here’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg from February:

Mayor Bloomberg yelled, “Cut!” on the city’s tax incentive program for the film and TV industry yesterday, suggesting the $30 million-a-year subsidy was a waste.

“I think at this point, everybody’s giving subsidies to the film business, and it’s a zero-sum game,” the mayor said during a discussion on government subsidies.

“It’s a race to the bottom, and in the end, it isn’t worth it,” he said.

Mayoral aides pointed out that all the funds in the 5 percent tax credit on production costs that were supposed to last through 2011 were exhausted in 2009 and came on top of a 30 percent state tax credit.

But what’s he gonna do about it?