Yesterday I went to the movies to watch "Sinister" (IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia), a horror film directed by Scott Derrickson. I’m not particularly interested in horror films and they’re not my favorite genre at all. In spite of that, Sinister is fun and provides a good amount of entertainment, which I think it’s the main purpose of a film like this one.
But the main reason that motivated me to buy a ticket for this particular film is its budget. Not long ago, I read an article on Hollywood accounting via Hacker News (original story, comments). It features excerpts from an interview with Derrickson in which he talks about Sinister and movie budgets, and how the industry is basically wasting a lot of money making films. A movie is a very expensive project. Given that it’s been over a hundred years since the basic technology was invented, we may think the big Hollywood producers would have learned by now how to cut expenses and increase the movie profits like everyone else does, by being efficient at making them, but it doesn’t look like that.
I recall coming home from watching No Country for Old Men. I think it’s an excellent movie and I’m only using it as an example here because I specifically recall its case. No Country for Old Men was filmed on a budget of 25 million dollars. By contrast, a horror movie like Sinister, with special effects and a polished look, had a budget of 3 million dollars. That’s 1/8th of the previous figure. How can we, then, justify spending 25 million dollars on No Country for Old Men, with a few make up and special effects too? It just doesn’t make sense.
Think about it this way: 25 million dollars is enough to pay 250 people 100k dollars a year for a full-time job on that one film alone. And that extra cost, those inflated budgets either due to promotional costs, or intermediaries, or whatever, are being passed to us, consumers, in the form of ticket prices. So I think we should simply support the work of people like Derrickson, spending exactly the amount of money that is needed to make a film and not more, and realizing that making a movie is not only art, it’s also an industrial process where efficiency matters, and cutting costs by a large margin is still possible without paying people peanuts.
Movie tickets for me and my wife: 16.60 euros (around 21 USD).