Controversial Decision

Rick Perry despises Machete? Anti-immigration nuts prompted pulling of movie tax credits, lawsuit alleges

Rick Perry despises Machete? Anti-immigration nuts appeased

Robert Rodriguez movie director
Producers of Robert Rodriguez's Machete claim they were denied tax incentives after anti-immigration pushback. A Film By?/Facebook
Robert Rodriguez Machete Kills movie poster
Machete Kills is set to open this October. Machete Kills/Facebook
Machete Kills Robert De Niro Charlie Sheen
This time around, Charlie Sheen joins the cast to take on Robert De Niro's Senator McLaughlin villain. Machete Kills/Facebook
Robert Rodriguez movie director
Robert Rodriguez Machete Kills movie poster
Machete Kills Robert De Niro Charlie Sheen

A lawsuit filed in Austin claims that Rick Perry played a starring role in the denial of promised tax incentives to the makers of Machete — ​Robert Rodriguez's 2010 movie about a former Mexican federal agent hired to assassinate a state senator hell bent on deporting illegal immigrants.

Just months before the movie's sequel Machete Kills hits theaters, production company Machete Chop Shop is suing the Texas Film Commission (TFC) for cancelling a series of tax credits due to characters that portrayed Texans "in a negative fashion." 

Perry formally signed the Texas Moving Image Industry Program into law during an April 2009 ceremony at Rodriguez's studios in Austin. The TFC, which falls under the auspices of the governor's office, approved the original Machete script several weeks later, finding it an acceptable depiction of the Lone Star State.

Christian media critic Ted Baehr told the filmmakers  that Perry "got involved in the decision to deny the application."

But after spending roughly $8 million to film in Texas, producers say the TFC refused to grant tax breaks after anti-immigration activists "inundated the Texas Film Commission with letters, faxes, emails, phone calls and other communications, all claiming that the content was inappropriate."

Interestingly, at the time of the pushback campaign, none of the film's content was available to the general public beyond a trailer that was released in May 2010.

As Machete went through final editing, the state informed filmmakers that the tax breaks had been canceled. 

The suit goes on to claim that Christian media critic Ted Baehr told the producers that Perry "got involved in the decision to deny the application."

Machete Chop Shop wants the denial overturned along with the promised tax credits, damages and court costs.

"Such actions represent an unconstitutional attempt by the Governor's Office to influence the speech of movie producers in Texas," the company says. "These actions chill freedom of speech, chill economic development and do nothing to further the purpose of the Texas Moving Image Incentive Program (to bring business, jobs and economic growth to Texas)."