Does the film violate the state's obscenity standard?
Michigan taxpayers gave the makers of “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” $8.3 million for filming in this state. The state reimbursed the filmmakers for $8.3 million of the $21.8 million spent in the state, or 38 percent of their costs.
According to Box Office Mojo, the movie has grossed $31.5 million in American theaters as of Nov. 27 and had a production budget of $19 million. The movie, which came out Nov. 4, has made $12 million more than its publicized $19 million production budget.
“Any business would gladly take 38 percent cash back on all their expenses. But this comes at the taxpayer expense and they get little in return for their forced generosity,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
A TV commercial for "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" raised questions about the “obscenity” standard in the statute that allows the film subsidies.
The law has “a requirement that the qualified production not depict obscene matter or an obscene performance.”
The 30-second TV commercial stated, “If New Line Cinema took all the sex, illegal substances, violence and foul language out of the new Harold and Kumar movie, it would look like this,” and then cut to a one-second clip followed by “The End.” The voice over than assures viewers, “Don’t worry. We didn’t.”
Michelle Begnoche, spokeswoman for the Michigan Film Office, didn’t respond to an email asking how the film office determined whether "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas" met the obscenity standard.