'Ghost Rider' Sequel Budget Trimmed?

These are tough economic times we're living, and movie studios are changing their ways in hopes of adapting. Or at least, Sony is.

As you likely already know, there's a Ghost Rider sequel in the works—carrying the tentative title Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance—and Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are helming it. Now it's been given the official greenlight, but there's a snag: it's projected budget of $135 million has been cut down to a significantly lower $75 million.

The Wrap reports the budget cut, explaining that Hyde Park Entertainment has been brought in to cofinance the project because Sony has so much capital tied up in other films (the Spider-Man reboot, Men in Black 3, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, etc.). Hyde Park is getting the international rights to the film, but domestic distribution rights are staying with Sony.

The first Ghost Rider made about $115 million domestically (and $229 million worldwide) against a $110 million budget, which after DVD sales and other sources of revenue makes it a mild success. Enough anyway, to greenlight a sequel with a seriously reduced budget.

Working from the standard studio format, $135 million sounds like a reasonable increment for a sequel to a movie with a $110 million budget. That's usually how this works; whatever the previous film cost, the next installment will need to cost more to up the ante. The Spider-Man films, for example, escalated from a $140 million budget to $200 and then $258. But how much is Sony investing in the Spider-Man reboot? Only $80 million, a very comparable sum to the Ghost Rider sequel's $75 million budget.

Unlike with the Spider-Man reboot, however, I don't see this as posing an issue. Between the Crank films (cost: $12 million and $12.9 million, respectively) and Gamer (cost: $15 million), directors Neveldine/Taylor are exactly the sort of guys you don't need to drop $100+ million on, as their guerrilla-filmmaking tactics pose little need for ballooning budgets.

Production for the Ghost Rider sequel will begin almost immediately, with Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba (The Wire), Ciaran Hinds (The Eclipse, Rome), and Placido Violante (The American) starring. David Goyer (Blade: Trinity, The Unborn) wrote the script.