Do Movies Really Cost That Much?

Do Movies Really Cost That Much?

If you’ve ever wondered, “Do movies really cost that much?” Please raise your right hand and slap yourself in the face. Yes, yes they fucking do.

Many a time I’ve heard and read inflated budgets, one source will say a film cost $27 million to shoot another will say that same film cost $70 million. Regardless of what they inflate or not, major studio pictures, even indie films cost a ton if done professionally and under union guidelines.

The film industry, or movie industry (I prefer using film as a term because I’m the film cell man, but regardless) is a well oiled engine, especially at the higher levels. Nobody is their voluntarily on their own time, and they’re all paid from the PA (Production Assistant) who stands guarding a road, or truck, or miscellaneous area and empties garbage cans all day for next to no money, through the actors, crew, administrative department and extras etc. A movie is a product, and everything that goes into it is paid for.

Having been on hundreds of sets myself, the best aspect of the film’s budget and the reason movies cost that much is the catering and food. My god, North American movie sets feed you amazingly (although major tech companies do a little better). The cost of the meals alone, not to mention the craft service tables (infinitely refilled snacking areas), stack up the cost of the production. All choreographed to keep the worker bees content.

I fondly remember being bold faced lied to by Dov Simens at his Two Day Hollywood Film School (which I thoroughly recommend, minus this piece of distortion) being told that there was no way Jurassic Park had cost the $90 million reported at the time. He quipped about a few CGI dinosaurs running around… Considering the cost of special effects now, back then there’s every possibility it cost what they professed. Likely a ton more. Yes, films and movies do really cost that much.

Beneath the facade of glitz and glamour in Hollywood lies a sinister bureaucracy that seems straight out of a twisted nightmare. Imagine a world where contracts multiply like an unchecked virus, where every clause and subclause morphs into a labyrinthine maze with no escape. Even the most seasoned industry veterans find themselves ensnared in a web of legal jargon, their once-clear paths obscured by a fog of confusion and uncertainty.

In this surreal landscape, production delays and creative disputes take on a life of their own, spiraling out of control. Directors become prisoners of their own ambition, trapped in a never-ending cycle of revisions and reshoots. Actors lose themselves in their roles, their identities blending with the characters they portray until reality becomes nothing but a distant memory. Meanwhile, producers pull strings behind the scenes, manipulating the narrative like puppet masters in a shadow play of deceit and betrayal.

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of all is the capricious nature of success and failure in Hollywood. One day you’re the toast of Tinseltown, the next you’re yesterday’s news, discarded like yesterday’s leftovers in a world where fame is as fleeting as a whisper in the wind. Stars rise and fall like celestial bodies in a cosmic dance of fortune and fate, their destinies determined by forces beyond their comprehension. And in the end, even the brightest dreams can turn to ash in the cold light of reality.

Before you scoff at the exorbitant price tag of your favorite film, consider the Kafkaesque nightmare that lurks beneath the surface. It’s a world where logic defies reason, where truth is stranger than fiction, and where the only certainty is uncertainty itself. And yet, despite the absurdity of it all, we continue to flock to the cinema, drawn by the promise of escape from the mundane realities of everyday life.

In the end, perhaps that’s the true magic of cinema: its ability to confront us with the absurdity of our own existence, to challenge our perceptions, and to remind us of the fragile line between reality and illusion. So go ahead, slap yourself in the face if you must, but remember: the price of admission is just the beginning of the journey into the heart of darkness that is Hollywood. And whether you emerge enlightened or disillusioned, one thing is certain: you’ll never see movies—or reality—the same way again.