No First Amendment right to subsidy of slasher movies

machete killsDespite the combined starpower of Danny Trejo, Lady Gaga, and Mel Gibson, the movie “Machete Kills” holds a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  That site’s “Critical Consensus” says: “While possessed with the same schlocky lunacy as its far superior predecessor, Machete Kills loses the first installment’s spark in a less deftly assembled sequel.”  Perhaps motivated by one of the worst theater openings of all time, the makers of this movie raised constitutional claims about the denial of funding by Texas’s filmmaker incentive program.

The Fifth Circuit affirmed dismissal on the pleadings: “Despite the denial of an Incentive Program grant, Machete Kills was still filmed in Texas, produced, and released. Machete does not dispute that it was free to engage in protected First Amendment activity without the benefit of an Incentive Program grant, and in fact did engage in such activity by making the film. Machete has not shown that it is clearly established that the First Amendment requires a state which has an incentive program like this one to fund films casting the state in a negative light.”  Machete Productions LLC v. Page, No. 15-50120 (Dec. 28, 2015).

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