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States Have Spent $25 Billion to Woo Hollywood. Is It Worth It?

Michigan desperately wanted a Hollywood makeover. And for $500 million, studios were more than happy to help.

When the state started writing checks in 2008 from one of the nation’s most generous film incentive programs, productions flocked there, making box-office hits like Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino,” Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” and Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Then Michigan did the math.

After a state economist determined that “the film incentives represent lost revenue” and that their economic benefits were “negligible,” Michigan, which cut funding for the police and schools while facing a severe budget deficit, eventually decided to end its incentives.

As the program gradually unwound, “The Avengers” moved to Cleveland and “Iron Man 3” went to Wilmington, N.C. Even “Detroit” was filmed in Boston.

Now, almost a decade after the state stopped paying Hollywood, lawmakers think they can no longer afford not to.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Gran Torino” and “Oz the Great and Powerful” were some of the box-office hits filmed in Michigan when it offered tax incentives.Credit…Clay Enos/Warner Bros.; Anthony Michael Rivetti/Warner Bros.; Disney

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