How much of the budget do big studios waste while making films?


I’ve recently been checking out the budgets for movies I watch, and it’s not always clear where the monney goes. I know a lot goes to big name stars and a reputable crew, but why do so many bigger budget movies look so bad? For example, these explosions may not be on the same level but for the price difference it’s astounding how similar they are.

*Btw the $0 one is from my Interview Trailer Parody that u can watch here


It’s all well and good saying you CAN do something for free, but people need to eat, so labour costs money. Most of that money goes to keeping crews fed and paid. If you have a look on any VFX-heavy film from the last 3 years, you will see films that have VFX teams of 100+ people (I think the Avengers had almost 300+). All of those people are working on very specific jobs because in the deadline driven world of feature films, you can’t wait for one person to finish a job so they can move on to the next.

The old rule of “Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick Two” applies to film. Studio backed films almost always pick fast and good, and that costs money. Low budget independent films often get it done cheaper, but it’s either low quality or takes a long time for one person to complete. Sometimes, even both.


I agree with @Luke_Nicolaou_DP. In my eyes, the point of art (at least to the artist) is to make more art, whether that means paying for materials or food and shelter. I’d much rather do a job with little pay and a bit of recognition rather than just recognition. That might seem a little careerist and a little square (pardon my Inside Llewyn Davis reference), but if filmmaking (or any art) isn’t your livelihood it might as well be an outside hobby.


Keep in mind there are a lot of wheels turning in big-budget movies. There are many different areas in making the movie and sometimes more than 60 people working in one area. Then there’s advertising/marketing, which is absolutely huge and is probably the most stressed of all the departments. There are also unions, guilds, tons of organisations and legal kerfuffle that needs to be straightened out and people need to be paid to do the paperwork.


Budgets give you room to move, the actors to lay the role, ect. It really depends on what you are doing to judge a film and to see how much of their budget they have wasted. You could easily make a decent film for 1 million dollars in my eyes.


Perhaps, if no-one was getting paid. And that’s a deal that happens regularly in Australia since the average feature is within 1-5 million dollars, particular if you can agree on deferred payment or back-end deals. But good luck trying to make an Avengers-level film for a meager million dollars because it means crew will not be paid.

And no matter how passionate a crew is, it’s hard to convince the production team to give up 6 weeks of their lives - and paid work - to work on a film, or your post team to give up 3 months. It’s a hard sell.


I have to agree with you there, I was meaning smaller sized inde films, but yes, If you want a chart smashing feature, Its going to cost you.


But what happens if you end up making a movie for $10 million dollars, and that movie makes ten times its money back because it’s a good story? I don’t think it costs you if you want a chart smashing feature…what xavierporterphotography is saying is that if you want to make a special effects driven picture in the way special effect pictures are made nowadays like Jurassic World, your film’s obviously going to have an enormous budget. But the return will likely be quite high because you know a built-in franchise is going to do well around the world…so what would a $200 million dollar budget matter even if not all of it was really necessary?

Actually, I’m not sure if this answer was entirely helpful. RocketJump’s latest video on Good vs. Bad CGI might provide a better answer: