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Where Does The Budget Go?


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#1 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:11 AM

 

So I was talking to some schizophrenic old guy who has a strong belief in many conspiracy theories (believes the world is controlled by a series of mobs). There was a fatal plane accident last year which involved some crew members from the set of "Mena" starring Tom Cruise. The budget of this movie is about 80 million dollars, the guy I was talking to assumed 75% of that budget went to intentionally killing members of the crew to create "media hype" for the film.

 

I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that's not true...

 

I tried explaining to him where the budget goes to, but I even found myself not giving the clearest of answers for where millions of dollars go for a given picture. That's where I ask for your help. I'll give two films (because I know it depends) and a series of categories, please give a percentage for each of those for where the budget would go.

 

First film, on the lower end of "big budgets" in the film age is Jennifer's Body (maybe David Mullen could help me out with this one) with an estimated budget of $16,000,000.

 

Second film, on the higher end of "big budgets" in the digital age is The Amazing Spider-man (2012) with an estimated budget of $230,000,000.

 

My sources for those numbers was the ever reliable IMDB.com

 

How do you believe these budgets were distributed among these 11 categories:

-Screenwriters

-Directors

-Art design/costumes/props

-Actors

-Audio/Video/Computer equipment

-Rest of crew on set, behind camera

-Lodging and catering for set

-Shooting on location

-Post production/Special Effects

-ADR/sound design

-Legal department (music permissions and so on)

-Distribution/Advertising (if included in the budget)

 

If any of you could clear what's been a mist in my mind for years I would really appreciate it.

 

As always, thanks for your time!


Edited by Macks Fiiod, 04 May 2016 - 01:12 AM.

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:32 AM

Most conspiracy theories are too complex and require too many people to keep quiet about them. Given Tom Cruise;s usual fee, 25% of $80m wouldn't be enough to make a film of the required standard. Crew members aren't important enough, Tom Cruise would be the person needed in marketing terms.

 

There's usually litte point trying to explain to conspiracy theorists, because they're invested a lot into the process and their world view.


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#3 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:36 AM

 

 

Most conspiracy theories are too complex and require too many people to keep quiet about them. Given Tom Cruise;s usual fee, 25% of $80m wouldn't be enough to make a film of the required standard. Crew members aren't important enough, Tom Cruise would be the person needed in marketing terms.

 

There's usually litte point trying to explain to conspiracy theorists, because they're invested a lot into the process and their world view.

Obviously, but I'm trying to gather this for my own benefit as well lol.


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#4 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 01:48 AM

That is one thing I have been curious about as well, exactly what does a $100 million budget actually look like? I only know of one that has been leaked, and I can't remember were I seen it or what it was. I think it was published in a book. It would be very interesting to see what goes where.

 

I imagine a LOT of it goes to casting. I'd say probably 50-60% of a big films budget will go directly to the actors, their agent, and any assistants or personal things they need to do the film. As much as crew make, I doubt it amounts to 10% of a larger budget. The rest is probably split between above and below line non-salary expenses like screenplay rights, insurances, sets, props, costumes, etc.

 

It sure would be neat to see a real Hollywood budget though. I wonder why they keep them so secret?

 

Edit: Found the budget I was looking for. $70 million budget for 'The Village'.

http://www.thesmokin...ge-movie-budget

 

Ha! 'Script Duplication, etc = $2,500'.... Yeah, I bet it cost $2,500 to xerox some script copies. More of that Hollywood creative accounting I hear about I guess. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 04 May 2016 - 01:53 AM.

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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 02:08 AM

Bear in mind that a feature film will have copies of the script for crew members and cast, plus there will be script revisions during the shoot and you have to pay someone to make the copies. They also tend to put some fat in, so that it can be spent somewhere else as required, because some things will go over budget.

 

Assuming a 100 copies, that's $25 a copy of say a 110 page script, not counting the revisions.. .


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#6 aapo lettinen

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 02:40 AM

I have understood that with the 100M+ budgets, about half of it or so goes to advertising/promotion and the rest is used to actually make the movie. 

 

in Finland, with the budgets usually ranging from about 1million€ to 2.5million€ , usually about 40-60% goes to cast and crew's salaries and the rest goes to everything else, like rentals, marketing, post production, etc. 

with "bigger budgets" from 4 to 8 million €uros it may be different but roughly about 50% usually goes to the salaries here and the rest is for other costs of making the movie. the actors actually have pretty much fixed prices here so it is easier to calculate the costs


Edited by aapo lettinen, 04 May 2016 - 02:43 AM.

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#7 Stefano Stroppa

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 08:55 AM

I found it really interesting to check out 'The Village' budget, thanks Landon for the link :)

 

i had fun looking up at Roger Deakins budgeting page: 

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 09:56 AM

Actually the script duplication figure seems on the LOW side to me, you won't believe the forests being cut down to feed that xerox machine for distributing script revisions on some shows.


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#9 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 02:15 PM

One thing I have seen in Hollywood budgets is spectacular waste!  These guys make the government look good in how they spend their money.  The amount money thrown at stars to accommodate them is beyond belief.  I was touring South Africa right after a Hollywood production had gone through a few months before.  The stories I was told about the lengths the production had to go through to accommodate the two US stars were fall on the floor hilarious.  Whole walls of hotels being knocked down to make the room bigger so it would be more acceptable to the star.  The number of trailers brought on set to accommodate John Travolta is now legendary.

 

So, when I read about one of these big tent poles crashing and burning at the box office all I can do is have a good laugh.  They are getting exactly what they brought upon themselves, I have zero sympathy for them.  We have a number of massive budget failures in 2013, 2014, 2015, and there will be some big flops in 2016 as well.

 

Yes, I can take the moral high road here because I always come in on time and under budget.  And I have the final say so on all budget line items.  If something is too expensive, it gets cut, period end of story and I really don't care how much howling and protesting it causes.  Don't like sharing a hotel room?  Well then you should not have signed up for this shoot because that was explained to you in writing before you got here.  Don't like your weekly rate?  Also, too bad, it's what you agreed to or we would not have hired you.  On down the line it goes.

 

R,


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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 02:17 PM

I have understood that with the 100M+ budgets, about half of it or so goes to advertising/promotion and the rest is used to actually make the movie. 

 

No actually, the 100M is for the film's production costs.  P&A is always tacked on after the fact.  And must also be recouped.

 

R,


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#11 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 02:28 PM

I agree with Richard... Hollywood has done this to themselves by not reining in the purse strings, Now it's to the point where a movie needs to make half a billion dollars before it's every considered profitable. It's a joke, plain and simple. Hollywood has to be one of the few industries (the government is another, as Richard said) that actively indulges such spending - and will gladly spend more if they can. Because of that, ticket prices to see a movie are astronomical, and many careers can be ruined simply because the movie didn't make back it's inflated budget.

 

That reason alone is why I have vowed never to work in that industry, and why I choose to stay outside of LA. Even if I ever reach the point where Hollywood comes knocking (not counting on it, but still...), they would not find me taking a risk on my working future by headlining one of their giant 'masterpieces' to hopeful success, putting my own future career in jeopardy, hoping that the movie makes 10x it's budget back.

 

Personally, I have had little respect for Hollywood ever since the way Disney treated Walter Murch on Return to Oz. I have to wonder why anyone would want to be at the helm of a project for these studios, short of receiving a giant paycheck. Too much stress, too much worry, and too much work to please the bosses-that-be. Give me my camera, some good actors, and a small but workable budget any day of the week. 

 

Just my $0.02. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 08 May 2016 - 02:29 PM.

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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 02:46 PM

 I have to wonder why anyone would want to be at the helm of a project for these studios, short of receiving a giant paycheck. 

 

Bingo.  Who cares if the movie is going to tank and you are controlled by a group of executives, if you walk away with a 1.5M director's fee, well, that's a job well done!  Certainly many actors take this view, and certainly 100% of agents do.

 

I'll be criticized for saying this, but...there are directors and there are filmmakers, and I have come to the conclusion that they are not the same thing.

 

R,


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#13 Manu Delpech

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 03:19 PM

I sense a lot of bitterness & barely veiled jealousy in there. Watch the ankles guys. 


Edited by Manu Delpech, 08 May 2016 - 03:19 PM.

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#14 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 03:39 PM

Has nothing to do with jealousy or bitterness, at least for me. It's just a matter of fact. Hollywood does not know how to rein in the purse strings on their budgets, which is why a movie that might have cost $20 million 20 years ago will now cost $100 million. Inflation is not to blame, because the rate of inflation was not that high. What is the blame mainly comes from these A-list actors demanding $20 million to work on a movie for a few months.

 

I come from a theatre background, and it's much the same there. Everyone blames the rise of cinema and television for the downfall of theatre, but that is totally false. The downfall of theatre comes from the fact ticket prices hover between $50 and $100 a pop, sometimes much, much more. It now costs a family of four a full weeks paycheck to go to the theatre. So is it any wonder that attendance is made up of rich old people? Shouldn't be. When I ran the theatre company I reduced prices from $25 a ticket to $10 a ticket. Yes, we had to make some cuts, but nothing that harmed the shows. Guess what, we saw an 80% boost in attendance, and many where families coming back.

 

If you think that cinema is immune to this, don't count on it. Hollywood will keep spending more and more money, resulting in higher ticket prices to the point where no one but rich people can afford it any longer. I think it'll be that point that the independents can rise up and take back the reins from Hollywood. We can already see more people flocking to DVD/Bluray/and yes, even ONLINE (gasp) for their entertainment because it's a heck of a lot cheaper. The only place Hollywood still holds onto strong is Cinema - the other outlets are not primed and open for indie producers.

 

I use to go to the movies every week about 10 years ago - now I'm lucky I'f I go once a month. Some of that is because Hollywood seems to crank out t-total crap that I wouldn't pay a penny to see, but most of it just relates to the cost of doing so. 

 

The only way the film industry can save itself from going the same route as theatre is to learn to rein in the spending. That is going to mean Johnny Depp is going to have to charge $10 million instead of $25. That might well also mean that inflated crew prices need to come down a bit as well - though the cast is the main culprit. It's just the reality of things, when prices start jumping out of proportion, you can either rein them in or slowly die when people find other, cheaper forms of entertainment.

 

I'm not mad or blaming the crew members for this at all. I'm certainly not jealous that I wasn't hired for the last Airbender or Captain underpants movie (or whatever else they come out with). I'm just stating a fact that needs to be said. I would probably not have brought such a fact up on a cinematography forum - but since Richard mentioned it, I figured I'd chip in my opinion on it as well - and back him up since I agree with him.

 

If more films where made in the $1-$5 million range, that might actually SAVE movies from going the way of the Dodo. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 08 May 2016 - 03:43 PM.

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#15 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 03:57 PM

I'll be criticized for saying this, but...there are directors and there are filmmakers, and I have come to the conclusion that they are not the same thing


Absolutely agreed.

Directors are generally hired hands. Brought in to make a product.
Filmmakers are generally creators. Bringing their own vision to the screen.

With that said, there are plenty of examples of true artisans, true "filmmakers" being hired to do someone else's work. One notable would be Stanley Kubrick on Spartacus.

In todays studio system, the "director" is brought in based on previous works, cost and availability. Most hollywood directors don't even get a say on what they're making.
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#16 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 03:58 PM

By the way, Richard, I just saw 'Against the wild' yesterday (I purchased it as part of my monthly Amazon DVD haul). It's amazing what you done with the budget, and I think movies like this show exactly how good movies can be made with good actors and with good crew without raiding the Bank of America vault. It's also a testament to Richard's directing skills. Loved the big fat raccoon Richard - please tell me you took that thing home and kept it as a pet. I would.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 08 May 2016 - 04:01 PM.

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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 06:18 PM

If more films where made in the $1-$5 million range, that might actually SAVE movies from going the way of the Dodo.


You would think so, but honestly it's too late... here is the reason why.

The problem has to do with technology, theaters and the studio's being money grubbing.

Film projectors are well-made, robust machines that are inexpensive to purchase compared to digital and they last forever. Early digital cinema was an experiment, theaters would purchase one or two projectors per theater, the rest would run film. A film print would cost the theater around $3000 + rental fee's, but they could run that print on multiple screens at the same time. So theater owners would keep the costs down by using their talented projection staff, most of whom were union. The film workflow was pretty bulletproof, prints were shipped via the standard carriers in locked boxes. Theaters would be given the combo via fedex and unlock them, usually on the wednesday before release so they could build and test them. Prints could easily run 200 screenings before they wore out, which is more then 2 months. Then, the theaters would ship them back, the studio's would recycle the prints and the whole cycle would begin again.

Then came the move to digital. Instead of a slow ramp-up, the owners of Deluxe, the biggest print manufacturing company in the US (NYC/LA) said they'd stop making prints by the end of 2013. This announcement happened sometime in the end of 2012 and it freaked everyone out! All of a sudden, the theaters had to scramble to get digital projectors and LOTS OF THEM, very very fast! AMC worked out a lease deal with Sony, 150 million dollars worth of projectors. The smaller theaters had no choice but to go out of business (sell to bigger chains) or risk only getting lower-end movies on 35mm, prints made by only ONE company in the US in limited numbers. Then IMAX came out with a huge blow, they would stop releasing blowup prints at the end of 2014. So any theater projecting 70mm IMAX would no longer be getting standard movies on film. This was a HUGE blow to those theaters, they scrambled and were all forced to install digital projectors in order to stay working. Lucky for some, they were newer theaters and already had digital projectors. Those IMAX theaters that were forced to migrate from film to digital, spent MILLIONS doing so, one of them actually sued IMAX because they had just invested in a 3D 15/70 system that was now completely obsolete.

What does all this mean? Since James Cameron forced every theater to buy a 3D projector to kickstart the trend of removing film projectors from theaters, we have seen ticket prices skyrocket. Today, most theaters are $14/ticket for 2D and anything that's 3D is upwards of $20 for IMAX 3D. The problem is, theaters are just starting to realize how unreliable digital projectors are over the long term. Theaters are scrambling to replace worn projectors, upgrade to 4k and of course, somehow get more money for tickets. Many theaters are selling customers on the newest gimmick; Laser projection. Where both Hateful Eight and Batman V Superman, did better numbers on 70mm then digital, screen v screen.

The studio's can't sell movies to theaters which don't guarantee a certain box office. Since most of the smaller/independent theaters closed down (or sold out) during this film to digital switch, the big theater conglomerates now make the calls. AMC pretty much dictates what the studio's can and can't sell. Since the studio's are held by the balls by the big theater's, which are the only current way for the studio's to make a lot of money... they make these heavily marketed behemoths, which are made by research groups, so they can't fail. Rumor is, Batman V Superman had a marketing budget of over 200 million, which is why they needed a billion to break even. You can't outspend the studio's, your little indy film maybe coming out the same week as a big release, but nobody will know about it because all everyone wants to do is see the movie which has been put into people's faces for years on every social media, billboard and television show.

So why don't the studio's make a 5M movie? Because each studio can spend a billion dollars a year on making two huge behemoth's that will make everyone happy and they'll make a billion in profits. For them, it's all about profits and outdoing one another. But the only reason why ANY of this exists is thanks to the high ticket prices. If the theaters were charging $7.50 like they did only 10 years ago, prior to the digital projection nonsense, they would be full of people watching on a regular basis. People would take a chance on those smaller movies and some could do well in the box office.

Yes, the studio's profit has been up year over year, but ticket sales have been down, outside of 2015, thanks to Star Wars and Jurassic World, both had HUGE repeat viewership. Unique cinema viewership has been down considerably since the highs of the early 2000's, prior to the bubble burst, prior to the ticket rate bump. When the studio's feel more secure about showing their movies day and date at home, it will be the end of cinema as we know it. The cinema will turn into a different "experience" based thing and most people who want to see first run movies, will simply watch them at home. It's the sad but inevitable truth based on the direction we're currently on.

This is why a 5M or even $20M movie, doesn't stand a chance.
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#18 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 06:31 PM

 

 


I'll be criticized for saying this, but...there are directors and there are filmmakers, and I have come to the conclusion that they are not the same thing.

 

I've come to understand "filmmaker" as a director who also writes.


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#19 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 06:36 PM

I've come to understand "filmmaker" as a director who also writes.


Yea, someone who brings their own idea to the big screen.
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#20 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 06:38 PM

To me, a filmmaker is one who maintains a firm control over the film in question. To be a 'filmmaker', one must actually MAKE the movie. Of course, on a collaborative medium like film how could anyone one person really be a 'filmmaker'? So to me, when I call someone a filmmaker - generally that person at least created the story (if not wrote it), produced or had a major producing hand in the movie, directed it, and also edited the movie (or perhaps works strongly with an editor). To me, even though he works for the studios - Robert Rodriguez is a filmmaker. He write, produces, directs, edits, etc. Joe Director who was hired to helm the latest Marvel masterpiece is not a filmmaker, at least not on that movie. He almost certainly didn't contribute to the story, most likely will not participate in producing duties, and most likely will be highly controlled as a director by the studio who hired him. Basically, he lacks any REAL control over the set, and is simply there to motivate others to follow the vision that has been pre-outlined, usually by a team of writers, the producers, etc. This may not apply when dealing with a very well known director like Spielberg, but then again that might be why the studios tend to choose experienced but not famous directors - they can maintain more control over them. 

 

Notice when Spielberg makes something, he is also usually producing it. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 08 May 2016 - 06:40 PM.

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