According to spies for Fox411, War of the Worlds may be the most expensive movie yet.
I’ve got a solid new figure for the budget on “War of the Worlds.” Are you ready?
Not counting promotion: $182 million. With promotion, think more like $230 million.
This week I was watching my new Jaws DVD, in which Spielberg in 1974 says that it’s unnerving mounting a “multi-million dollar” movie. Jaws only cost about $12 million dollars and made it back in 2 weeks, going on to make almost half a billion dollars. I’m not sure if these figures are in today’s dollars or 1975 dollars, or mixed. (Oddly enough, the British documentary on the DVD which was made during the filming says that Jaws’ budget is 1.5 million pounds, which would only be 2-3 million dollars; I’m not sure why that figure is so off.)
In any case, the point is that Spielberg and Hollywood in general have gone way past the point where they would put out a movie that could generate returns that are a multiple of the expenditures. This movie could bomb and fall far short of recouping the money. It may make its money back and, if it’s really good, make half a billion dollars…which would only be 2x the money spent. If it is a phenomenonal success and generates a BILLION dollars in tickets, DVD sales and all other tie-ins, that would still be only 4.34 times the cost of the film.
Aren’t there simpler, less risky ways to earn a couple bucks for every dollar you spend?
A few movies can take those kinds of gambles, sure. Titanic and Terminator 2, for instance, both had seemingly-absurd expenses which only seem wise in retrospect. They had intense spectacles and compelling stars in addition to many other worthwhile qualities (acting, direction, script, art design, etc.). But here they’re hinging a $230 million movie on Tom Cruise (who’s had a string of mediocre films, is a fading star and his publicity campaign consists of Scientology nuttiness) and Spielberg (hasn’t had a colossal runaway hit since Saving Private Ryan in 1998, and since then has had expensive flubs like Minority Report and A.I. and a couple mildly interesting Tom Hanks films). The other big star of the movie is Dakota Fanning, and every time I see her I remember how M. Night Shyamalamalan mounted a War of the Worlds on a much smaller budget!