What Cast and Crew Really Earn on a $200 Million Blockbuster Budget

Hollywood accounting has long been a black box. In fact, until the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in November of 2014, there was next to no verified information on blockbuster salaries available to the public. (That didn’t stop journalists from positing up a storm.)

Now, thanks to Vanity Fair, you can rest assured that the Hollywood hierarchy is alive and well. In the video below, VF estimates the breakdown of a $200 million blockbuster. Unsurprisingly, above-the-line talent scores the biggest paycheck; Lead Actors 1, 2, and 3 comprise 9% of the film’s entire budget. But the director, producers, editor, DP, and lead writers don’t fare too badly, either, each earning $1 million or above.

Some surprises: CG artists can make nearly as much as the executive producers, if not more ($1.2 million), with modelers and animators not far behind (around $900k). But don’t confuse the modeler with the model-maker, who appears to earn the least amount of below-the-line dough ($7k).

While $200 million is a fair calculation of the average blockbuster budget, it’s worth noting that budgets can vary wildly. Pirates of the Caribbean 3, the most expensive film made to date, cost $378 million. Meanwhile, each movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy cost around $93 million. Films that are not part of a franchise, like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Southpaw, and Sicario, tend to clock in closer to $30 million.

Movies that do cost $200 million are notable job creators. Monsters University ($200 million) created 1,117 jobs. Similarly, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ($225 million) created 1,153 jobs.

Studios calculate production overhead at 15% of final production costs.

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