'Miami Vice' filming, visiting events bolster our economy
By Michael Lewis
After we wrote last week that "Miami Vice" is to pump $25 million to $30 million into Miami's economy, a reader dissented.
"It seems the production numbers of these events like 'Miami Vice' are always offered as fact ... but very little is ever done by those impacted to validate the claims," our reader wrote.
The reader may be well-informed: While the note wasn't signed, it bore a production company's e-mail address.
Still, it's hard to agree with the note's conclusion that "location shots fall into the same category as having a pro sports franchise in town - it's a lot of show but very little dough."
How, then, could the movie hit $25 million impact?
Filming is to take 100 days. If pay and expenses average $500 a day and 500 are at work, that's $25 million. If pay and expenses average half that, pay alone could hit $12.5 million.
How many people could there be?
Well, producers are hiring 60 to 70 police officers on overtime, and they say 80% to 85% of the crew and talent are being hired here - not the top folks, probably, but still a huge number. All won't work 14 weeks, but many will. Think of how many extras appear in an action film that uses the community as its beautiful backdrop.
Beyond local salaries, add hotel rooms for out-of-towners, food, car rentals and incidentals, and the folks who are not local will also have a big impact here.
Then, add use of local production firms, stores where visitors will shop, clubs on South Beach that will entertain film folks after hours, valet parking - and just about every service aspect of life that someone in Miami for more than three months uses. You can't pinpoint the numbers, but they exist.
Next, look at the indirect benefit of flowing millions into local payrolls and millions into business-services spending: Those who fill their wallets with "Miami Vice" funds will as a result spend locally, adding perhaps 50% to the direct spending.
With all of that, maybe, as the writer suggests, $25 million to $30 million is still an overestimate - but not an outlandish one. Clearly, the additional work, hotel rooms, meals and so forth will pour multiple millions into our economy. It would be impossible for this massive effort using local talent, production workers and police not to have a huge impact.
That's the hard money benefit of hosting a major event.
But our writer says it's not about the money at all:
"Don't get me wrong: I love seeing my hometown up on the screen, but let's call a spade a spade - this is really about a million in hubris."
It's true that we take pride in seeing Miami in the global spotlight, but the impact is far more than hubris.
More glitz adds to Miami's lure to outsiders because the county offers actual substance as a business and visitor community as well. Ask the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau how important it is to keep our brand name front and center globally - it translates into more hotel visitors at higher rates, more visitor spending at local stores and restaurants.
The impact of "Miami Vice" is impressive, but the film industry isn't alone as a generator from the outside.
We also reported last week that Miami-Dade County is about to sign up the 2007 US Fencing Association's National Championships. That would bring 7,500 families here for 10 days each. If hotel rooms average $200 a night, they alone would bring in $15 million.
Making Greater Miami headquarters for entertainment business and sporting activities from out of town is almost always good for our wallets as well as our image. We should be not only proud to welcome them - we need to continue to actively cultivate these important economic generators.