Christopher Nolan, the director behind the wildly successful Batman Returns, The Dark Knight, and the soon-to-be blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises is himself a White Knight. He just doesn’t know it. The Department of Labor doesn’t track jobs created by the writer and director, but let us consider this: Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has created more jobs than President Barack Obama.
First, the June 2012 jobs report:
The economy added 80,000 jobs in June, according to today’s monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they weren’t enough to lower the nation’s jobless rate of 8.2 percent.
Now, let us look at The Dark Knight Rises, which opens July 20. With a production budget estimated to be around $250 million used to realize Nolan’s vision, 11,000 extras were brought into Heinz Field, over 10,000 hit the streets of New York, teams of special effects artists were hired, and construction on elaborate sets and set pieces had to be made. The direct jobs created for this movie alone must be in the tens of thousands.
Now, let us think about indirect jobs. And, since I want to be fair, I’ll use the same standards for indirect jobs created that the federal government uses for “green” jobs:
Since the guy who sweeps the floor at a solar panel company, an employee at a bicycle shop, a teenager at a record shop, and a garbage man are all touted by the Obama administration as “green” jobs created under its watch … I’d like to look at the multiplier effect of Christopher Nolan’s creative genius.
Not using the taxpayer’s money, Nolan reinvigorated the Batman name. Think of all the action figures that were created for his movies. Think of the jobs that were created (or saved) due to t-shirts, key chains, underwear, bedsheets, Halloween costumes, birthday cakes, birthday cards, video games, amusement park rides, comic book shops and a host of other Nolan-inspired “Batman” paraphernalia. When you think about it, it boggles the mind. One man — from the private sector — has a creative vision. He co-wrote a screenplay, put together a team of people who believed in the mission, and then directed the enterprise to critical and financial success. The Dark Knight made over $1 billion dollars in ticket sales alone (and that’s not counting DVD sales).
When one considers that the Obama administration took $10 billion from taxpayers to create … 355 green construction jobs, it’s hard to imagine why so many people believe their class warfare rhetoric.
Finally, let’s be frank: the president doesn’t create jobs, unless he’s expanding the government (and even then, the government must secure its funding for those jobs from the private sector). What the government can do through public policy is to create the environment where businessmen and entrepreneurs will take risks with their money. What the government can do is take uncertainty out of the market so investors and mom-and-pop retail stores can make long term plans with confidence. And in that sense, the Obama administration has failed. Miserably.
With over 8 percent unemployment for over 30 months, I’m beginning to think we would have been better off just giving billions to Christopher Nolan. We could have said, “Here, I think there’s a Superman movie that needs to be made. And a Justice League. And a few Marvel franchises while you’re at it.”
The real truth is, Christopher Nolan is one of millions of White Knights. They exist all over the private sector. They’re the people who are planning businesses and toiling away to heat our homes, figuring out ways to make our internet faster, and creating products we didn’t know we wanted until they existed (e.g., iPhone), and to make movies that move us.
To paraphrase a successful businessman: “The government wants to rob Peter to pay Paul, but they always forget that Peter is the one that is creating the wealth in the first place,” (D’Souza, The Virtue of Prosperity, 124).
God bless you, Christopher Nolan. Thanks for making some amazing movies, and even more so for all the jobs you’ve created.