A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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Sun Sets on Another Cop Drama Shot In Detroit; Taxpayers Lose More Money

Neither media hype, nor millions from taxpayers could keep 'Low Winter Sun' from being canceled after one season

For the second time, a TV drama set in Detroit that received Michigan taxpayer dollars was canceled after one season.

"Low Winter Sun," a police drama by AMC, ended after a short run

The show is set to receive $7.5 million in subsidies for the one season and was projected to hire 245 Michigan workers with a full-time equivalent of 148 jobs, according to the Michigan Film Office.

"Detroit 1-8-7," an ABC police drama, was filmed in Detroit in 2010 and then canceled after one season. The producers of that show received $6 million from taxpayers in Michigan.

Like most film projects set in Michigan, "Low Winter Sun" received a lot of pre-broadcast publicity. The New York Times compared it to a "love story about the city" and suggested it was part of a counter narrative "of a Detroit rising and being rebuilt …"

MLive did a story on a local bar that had a scene shot in it hosting a party to celebrate. 

But in the end, the series didn't make it to a second season.

Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said he thinks there is an inherent deficiency in films that get taxpayer subsidies. He believes movie investors are more likely to take chances on projects they wouldn't necessarily do if they didn't have a taxpayer safety net.

That's why Drolet said he isn't surprised some subsidized projects in Michigan don't meet a lot of commercial success. He wondered if some box office failures would ever be made if the moviemakers were on the hook for the entire budget.  

"I don't think it is a complete coincidence that these shows get subsidies and fail," he said. "The only show that continues to go on is the subsidizing of the film industry."

Michigan taxpayers have spent several hundred million dollars on film incentives with no clear uptick in jobs. The Republican-dominated Legislature had a chance to end the subsidies, but the GOP this year teamed up with Democrats to extend the $50 million-per-year program.

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See also:

'Low Winter Sun' Buzz Ignores Taxpayer Subsidies

Box Office Bombs: Made In Michigan

Film Incentives: The $50 Million Sequel

Five Reasons Government Subsidies For Films Are A Bad Idea

Hollywood Transforms Itself to Milk Multiple States For Movie Money

Public Employee Pension Systems Raided To Pay Film Studio Bills

Big Hollywood Bailout: Taxpayers Spent Nearly $40 Million To Subsidize Disney's 'Oz'

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