Director J.J. Abrams is currently working on what’ll most likely end up being his most expensive film yet, the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek. Before that, he made two movies, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible III, that both cost $150 million. Expensive for sure but a drop in the bucket compared to the films people like Christopher Nolan or Michael Bay are making. In a new interview, Abrams calls film budgets “preposterous and embarrassing,” a sentiment that one would think most of Hollywood should agree with, but they don’t. Read more after the jump.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Abrams said “It is preposterous and embarrassing that movies cost what they do.”
He went on to admit that there were budget issues on both Star Trek‘s as well as Mission: Impossible three and four (which he directed and produced, respectively) but that “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.” He continued:
I am as interested in and obsessed with what can be done in the feature world for a price as anyone at any studio. I feel like it is incumbent upon filmmakers today to treat it like their own money.
Abrams’ practices what he preaches. His third directorial effort, Super 8, only cost $50 million and some of the other features he’s produced, such as Cloverfield, are even less than that. He certainly understands that audiences demand big effects and big spectacle but implies big budgets make filmmakers lazy and reliant on post-production. Sounds about right to me.
Abrams’ philosophy is, oddly, a rarity in Hollywood as you rarely see mid-range studio tentpoles anymore. Studios seem more open to losing money on overpriced spectacle like John Carter and Battleship rather than concentrating of less expensive, more practical movies which would more easily turn a profit. The fact of the matter is making a movie is very easy. Give anyone hundreds of millions of dollars and they can make a movie. But making a good movie takes time, passion, dedication and – most of all – patience. That’s a virtue Abrams is obviously a fan of and one Hollywood, who regularly sets release dates before film’s have scripts/directors/producers/actors etc., is not. Case in point, both of Abrams’ Star Trek films missed (or will miss) their original release dates in favor of getting the story right.
Less money, more patience, do it the J.J. Abrams way.
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