Hollywood blockbusters continue to push past the $150 Million+ opening weekend and into the realm of Avengers‘ $200 Million three-day haul – and, at the same time, the budgets of future blockbusters will continue to balloon. Just this past year we’ve seen some pretty expensive gambles taken on unknown quantities like John Carter, only to have those films fail to return even a small percentage of that initial investment.
But some filmmakers think this approach is excessive. Among those directors is J.J. Abrams, prolific TV series creator and the man behind the resurgence of not one, but two popular franchises: Star Trek and Mission: Impossible.
For Abrams, the ever-expanding film budget is “preposterous and embarrassing,” and keeps filmmakers from thinking outside of the box. The challenges inherent to budget constraints, in Abrams’ mind, are what keep a director and their crew sharp.
Budget issues are part of the Hollywood movie-making process, but it’s when those filmmakers rise above – find new ways of making a particular shot or sequence cheaper, while still preserving its importance in the grander narrative – that they are the most rewarded.
“Certainly on ‘Star Trek’ and the sequel and on ‘Mission: Impossible’ three and four, we had massive budget issues always. Yet we always get it figured out before production starts and realize that the money you don’t get forces you to rethink something and challenges you to figure it out in a new way.”
The real testament to Abrams’ line of thinking is the end product – the films that were released. Viewers would hardly notice that Mission: Impossible 4 struggled to keep a tight budget while Tom Cruise is dangling from one of the world’s tallest buildings, or that Bad Robot Productions was pinching pennies as the crew of the Starship Enterprise zipped through deep space. It’s, as they say, all a part of movie magic.
In some regards, though, studios get what they pay for, in that if they give a higher budget to a film bound to be a success, they end up with a larger return. Look at Marvel’s recent boost to the Iron Man 3 budget – surely in response to Avengers‘ record-breaking weekend. The expectation there is that much more money in the budget will help boost the quality of Iron Man 3‘s action (some of which was teased during Comic-Con) and thereby keeping its opening weekend from looking insignificant when compared to Avengers.
Abrams certainly has a compelling mindset when it comes to budgets – but he’s obviously speaking as a filmmaker who is in high demand. At the end of the day, though, all that matters to audiences is what they see on screen, no matter how much it costs.
Source: LA Times