While the adage “you get what you pay for” is true in many, if not most, instances, the one place it is often not true is in the movie and film industry. Long is the list of big-budget movies that have been a resounding flop and low-budget independent films that have made back many times over the cost of making it in the first place. Sadly, in the modern world throwing a lot of money at a project doesn’t always make it a better movie, while a lack of budget can often result in a better project. Here are 4 reasons why a movie’s budget is not always relevant to it’s success.
1. How money is spent is as important as how much money is spent
Too often, novice or amateur directors have an idea about what will make a movie successful that is not actually true. Some filmmakers think that killer special effects or a 20 minute fight scene or car chase or a big name star are all guarantees of a successful film. Too often, they put the majority of their budget into these areas and scrimp on a number of areas that are far more crucial to the success of a film. Good sound and lighting, beleivable characters and a great story are all far more important ingredients in a great film than a single fight scene or car chase.
2. Marketing matters
Every year, studios produce a certain number of what are called “tentpole” movies. This are big budget “sure winner” films that can make them enough money to cover a number of lower budget experimental films they made or movies that never got finished. What studios know is that with the right marketing, the right trailer and the right names attached to the project, they can get a huge number of people to attend on opening night, even if the movie is terrible. Then, they promote those box office numbers relentlessly to get even more people to go watch the movie, which helps them not only recoup what they spent to make that movie, but any number of other movies that didn’t break even. Sadly, in the world of Hollywood, even terrible movies can make a lot of money if they are marketed right, while far better films struggle to even get distribution.
3. Passion trumps dollars
Very often, some of the best filmmakers will avoid taking big studios budgets to make their films, because of the strings attached. Studios generally want sure winners; movies that follow a specific, bland formula guaranteed to bring in audiences. Filmmakers, on the other hand, are artists who want to create something new and different – something that isn’t “tried and true” and been done a million times over. Generally, the price of getting big budget backing is a loss of creative control, while the lower the budget you have to work with, the more creative control you often have. This often results in lower budget movies being far superior to movies with much bigger budgets.