Remember When the Movie “Cedar Rapids” Wasn’t Actually Filmed Here?
Let's go back, way back to 2011. A huge movie came out called "Cedar Rapids" so naturally, there was a huge buzz here in the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As I'm sure there was in Cedar Rapids, Nebraska.
The movie starred Ed Helms as a guy who was sent on a corporate trip by his company to "Cedar Rapids, Iowa". It was funny stuff.
Turns out, the movie wasn't even filmed in Iowa, let alone Cedar Rapids. This is probably common knowledge by now since the movie came out 11 years ago, but let's revisit what happened.
Oh, they meant to film it here. But then a tax credit scandal got in the way. They moved the production of "Cedar Rapids" to Ann Arbor, Michigan.
So, thanks to some corruption, not only did they leave Hawkeye country, but adding insult to injury, they went to the hometown of a Big Ten rival!
Two words: tax incentives
Iowa had them when filming started but after a corruption scandal involving a former Iowa Film Office Chief, they were dropped, so Michigan was the place to go. According to CBR, that state offered a 40% tax rebate plus an extra 2% if filmmakers worked in core communities like Ann Arbor, which more than made up for the original plans' failure.
When and why did Iowa stop the film production tax breaks?
Former Iowa Governor Chet Culver suspended the state's film production tax incentive program in 2009 after a scandal broke, involving Iowa's Film Production Office chief, Tom Wheeler. Wheeler had approved questionable expenditures including some funds used to purchase personal vehicles. More information on that scandal and its outcome can be found in a Cedar Rapids Gazette article from 2014.
Film production projects are again being welcomed back to Iowa, and a website has been formed to help keep tabs on projects to avoid another scandal like the one that moved "Cedar Rapids" out of Cedar Rapids in the late 2000s.
Before all of this scandal took place, we can think of some of the lovely movies that were based and at least partially filmed here including "Twister", "The Bridges of Madson County" and "Field of Dreams". We got a shoutout in a film called "Out of Bounds" with actor Anthony Michael Hall which refers to DeWitt, Iowa although none of it was filmed there.
Finally, Hallmark Channel even teased us with a holiday flick called "Christmas in Homestead" which was not based or filmed in Homestead, Iowa although it was implied.