Why are major Hollywood movies so expensive these days? It seems like everything costs at least $200 million to make. Surely, there has to be a happy medium between indies and blockbusters. As it turns out, while the average movie budget has exploded over the last few decades, it’s still a far cry from your typical “Avengers” movie. So buckle up as we take you through a journey of the average of how much it costs to make cinema magic.


How much does a movie cost to make?

Every movie is different. Some can be made on a relatively low budget of a few million dollars. In other instances, you have something like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which was most expensive movies ever made at a whopping $379 million!

With such a wide breadth of budgets, it can be tough to reach a consensus, especially when determining what types of films to include. However, according to Investopedia, the average film budget for a Hollywood motion picture rests at around $65 million.

It’s important to note that doesn’t include marketing costs, which can often cost half as much as the production costs. With average marketing costs being around $35 million, the average movie cost in total stands at $100 million.


What's in the movie marketing budget?

When most people think of the cost of making movies, their thoughts turn to the actual production. You have the costs of paying the cast and crew, building sets, utilizing visual effects, and everything else associated with making a movie come to life.

However, that’s only half the battle in Hollywood. From there, you need to market the film so that people actually know it exists. For major productions, this is readily apparent in the form of trailers, billboards, radio ads, and everything else you can possibly slap a poster on.

You can learn more bout the various ways marketing takes shape by viewing this video from CrashCourse.

Average Hollywood Movie Budget  •  What Is the Average Budget for a Movie

While major tentpoles have no shortage of options for getting the word out, indie films have to get creative. One way to do this may be to reach out to publications to have them write a review for the film.

If a movie garners enough positive press, it may convince general audiences to check it out for themselves.

Thanks to the advent of the internet, there are more avenues than ever to get the word out. Plus, it can be a lot cheaper to get press attention from a movie blog than something like Variety. 


How has the average movie budget increased over the years?

The idea that every blockbuster has to cost around $200 million is a fairly recent phenomenon. Sure, inflation is a thing, but it wasn’t always like this. 

In fact, if you go back as recently as the 1990s, you’d be hard-pressed to find any movie that broke $100 million budget. Not adjusted for inflation, the cost to make Jurassic Park, which required a ton of sets, visual effects, and animatronics, cost a measly $63 million. The first movie Steven Spielberg made with a budget exceeding $100 million was 2002’s Minority Report.

This comes down to good, old-fashioned inflation and the increasing cost of everything associated with making a movie. For example, The Hollywood Reporter ran a piece about the skyrocketing cost of making movies due to the increasing price of lumber during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a factor not a lot of people think of when considering a film’s budget, but lumber to build sets is absolutely crucial.

It just goes to show how the little details can take a $1 million movie budget to one that costs $10 million.


What’s the average film budget for a first-time filmmaker?

Amateur filmmakers really shouldn’t have to worry about budgets in the millions for their first movies. But money will undoubtedly become even more of an issue, and you should know that before signing any checks.

According to Newbie Film School, it costs between $700 and $1,500 per minute for a new movie. Granted, those numbers can vary greatly depending on the nature of the story. To avoid going grossly over budget, it’s paramount to look at what you’ll be spending the money on initially. And this video does a good job of going over the basics. 

Average Cost of Film Production  •  How to Budget for a Short Film

Ultimately, whether you have $10,000 or $200 million, it all comes down to the story you want to tell. 


Guerilla Filmmaking

There are many ways to bring a project under budget. And if you’re looking for ways to bring the budget down, you should look into the principles of guerilla filmmaking. One example is to use a total skeleton crew made up of only who’s absolutely necessary. See what else you can do to lower the production budget with this handy guide.

Up Next: Guerilla Filmmaking →
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