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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old May 2 2012, 09:59 PM   #1
jefferiestubes8
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The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

TGDaily had an interesting article today about the cost of a genre film and this quote got me thinking:
With the recent failure of John Carter, which has basically become the Heaven’s Gate of science fiction, you wonder if another movie could actually put a studio out of business
the L.A. Times recently reported that five major summer films cost over a cool $200 million
Although Inception had some disaster film elements in it...

What's wrong with more speculative fiction films (far less costly) and less scifi-action films for our genre?


The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

related thread from 2011
business aspect - 'Inception proves good sci-fi movies can make money'

Last edited by jefferiestubes8; May 2 2012 at 10:34 PM.
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Old May 3 2012, 12:00 AM   #2
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

150 million dollars seems to have become a kind of floor for this sort of movie.
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Old May 3 2012, 12:18 AM   #3
Temis the Vorta
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

What's wrong with more speculative fiction films (far less costly) and less scifi-action films for our genre?
Not enough pricey eye candy to draw audiences in. This is an example of "you gotta spend money to make money." Having eye-popping visuals and insane action doesn't guarantee success, but not having it will guarantee failure.

Sure, you could spend less money and draw less of an audience. But if your business is all about snapping up the limited number of screens available in theaters worldwide, you need to maximize the audience levels. If you don't, the next movie over who is competing for those same screens will do it, and bump you out entirely.

The economics change entirely when movies are not competing for the limited "shelf space" of movie theater screens. Movies created for Netflix or Amazon, for example, can appeal to niche audiences and have far smaller budgets.

But then the issue becomes, if this is no longer "movies in theaters, TV series on TVs," then why pursue the artificial distinction between movies and TV series at all? Why does there need to be a two-hour chunk of story over here, vs another story type told in one-hour increments, 13 to 22 times per year? The forces that shaped those formats are going away. Stories should be defined by whatever works - a 12 hour story which can be viewed in whatever increments, over whatever time period, the viewer chooses.

The two-hour SFX extravaganza that we know of as "movies" was created for the benefit of theater owners, just as broadcast TV as we currently know it was created for the benefit of advertisers. Those formats will certainly survive into the future, but they've never represented anything more than a fraction of what's possible, and what will become possible in the future.
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Old May 3 2012, 01:15 AM   #4
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

I know those are the only things I'll pay the money to see on the big screen - something where it makes a difference visually. Otherwise I'll wait for home options... and I'm about at the point where I'm not going to watch most genre tv until it gets a second season. Tired of being left in the lurch.
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Old May 3 2012, 01:33 AM   #5
Jax
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

I could of told the Disney, John Carter's budget was way way too big to succeed. A film with that budget should be coming out in the summer or christmas season as well generally. Does anyone else think cast pay is also way too high, I look at these so called big name actors and do they really warrant so much?
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Old May 3 2012, 01:51 AM   #6
Caliburn24
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

Is there any website out there that actually tracks movie budgets accurately on an item by item basis? I seem to recall rumors that every Hollywood studio is highly secretive about budgets. All the "200 million" numbers being touted are basically just estimates and guesses. We actually have no concrete data on how much is being spent, by who, on whom, and for what, just a mass of industry speculation.

I think some transparency and openness concerning budgets would do wonders for the industry.
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Old May 3 2012, 03:41 AM   #7
M'rk, son of Mogh
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

Caliburn24 wrote: View Post
Is there any website out there that actually tracks movie budgets accurately on an item by item basis? I seem to recall rumors that every Hollywood studio is highly secretive about budgets. All the "200 million" numbers being touted are basically just estimates and guesses. We actually have no concrete data on how much is being spent, by who, on whom, and for what, just a mass of industry speculation.

I think some transparency and openness concerning budgets would do wonders for the industry.
I think part of the problem is the accounting involved in movie making is MUCH more complex than "the actors, crew and expenses cost this much."

What's that phrase about the most creative thing in hollywood being the accounting?

Past movies, upcoming movies, deals with sponsors, percentages of this and that, all get rolled around which, and I'm sure for good reason, make it difficult to offer an accurate number to the public.
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Old May 3 2012, 05:09 AM   #8
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

The problem is this strange difference in what unions demand between a feature film and something like a television series. One of the best examples is Joss Whedon's Serenity. Serenity did look better than a Firefly episode; but would you say it looked 20 times better? The Serenity budget was roughly 40 million; and the *only* reason it was that low is because Joss had some friends and people from the tv show who were willing to help him instead of just going for the union rate like other feature films.

The work in feature films do not justify the massive inflation in their cost. The whole thing has been designed to grab a piece of a massive box office that doesn't exist yet at time of filming; but the players at all levels get their cut upfront instead of just taking a share of what the actual box office turns out to be.
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Old May 3 2012, 05:33 AM   #9
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

Jax wrote: View Post
I could of told the Disney, John Carter's budget was way way too big to succeed. A film with that budget should be coming out in the summer or christmas season as well generally. Does anyone else think cast pay is also way too high, I look at these so called big name actors and do they really warrant so much?
A certain name or face on posters and advertisements can literally bring in millions of dollars of profit that the movie wouldn't get without them, so yes, some of them do warrant their huge salaries.
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Old May 3 2012, 07:40 AM   #10
Jax
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

A certain name or face on posters and advertisements can literally bring in millions of dollars of profit that the movie wouldn't get without them, so yes, some of them do warrant their huge salaries.
Must be me because while I do have favourite actors, they generally won't sway me to watch a movie. A good trailer, a subject am interested in and of course word of mouth do it more for me than the cast.
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Old May 3 2012, 08:44 AM   #11
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

Plus the pressure on salaries has been downward in Hollywood - there was a great article about it a while back, they set the budget, ask the actor and if he quibbles about the money, they simply move onto the next one.
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Old May 3 2012, 09:09 AM   #12
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

Skywalker wrote: View Post
Jax wrote: View Post
I could of told the Disney, John Carter's budget was way way too big to succeed. A film with that budget should be coming out in the summer or christmas season as well generally. Does anyone else think cast pay is also way too high, I look at these so called big name actors and do they really warrant so much?
A certain name or face on posters and advertisements can literally bring in millions of dollars of profit that the movie wouldn't get without them, so yes, some of them do warrant their huge salaries.
Yeah, Mark Kermode has suggested one of the (many, in his eyes) reasons John Carter was doomed to fail was that it didn't have a bankable name star attatched to it.

It shouldn't be the way it works but they do bring in the punters.
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Old May 3 2012, 09:12 PM   #13
nvek86
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

Jax wrote: View Post
I could of told the Disney, John Carter's budget was way way too big to succeed. A film with that budget should be coming out in the summer or christmas season as well generally.
Well, there are films that have come out in March and grossed a lot of money. This year there was The Hunger Games and two years ago Alice in Wonderland (both over 300 Mio grossers). Granted, they had other things going in their favor that John Carter lacked, but they show that it is possible to get big grosses outside summer and Christmas.
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Old May 4 2012, 02:46 PM   #14
23skidoo
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

Part of the problem is the costs associated with promoting these films is often rolled into the budgets, and some studios just go crazy with promos.

You also run into other complications when adding up the cost. Star Trek The Motion Picture was notorious in its day for being one of the most expensive films ever made. But the reason its budget was listed as so high for the time was that Paramount included the complete pre-production costs of the cancelled Star Trek Phase II television series into the overall budget of TMP. I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, but I think I read somewhere that TMP's true budget may have actually been closer to that of Wrath of Khan (maybe a little more due to set construction).

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Old May 4 2012, 05:18 PM   #15
nvek86
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Re: The cost of a modern genre blockbuster

23skidoo wrote: View Post
Star Trek The Motion Picture was notorious in its day for being one of the most expensive films ever made. But the reason its budget was listed as so high for the time was that Paramount included the complete pre-production costs of the cancelled Star Trek Phase II television series into the overall budget of TMP.
Film studios still do that. Take Superman Returns or Tangled: Yes, they were both expensive films, but the listed budgets also include all the previous attempts to get them made.
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