The Cost of Making a Hollywood Movie or TV Pilot

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Annie 2

Annie (c) Sony Entertainment

Ever wondered how much it really takes to make a film of Hollywood’s calibre? And what hidden costs you should be looking out for on your next big production? The Hollywood Reporter recently crunched the numbers for the cancelled CBS series Battle Creek and the Annie reboot, both of which were revealed in the Sony Hack.

The total budget for Annie was $77,747,714, although the above the line costs came to $32,815,081. These included the cast at about $17 million, rights and writers at around $8 million, producers at $2.7 million, the director at $2 million, fringe costs of $1 million and travel and living, which came to about $653,385.

Annie 1

Annie (c) Sony Entertainment

Below the line costs came to $44,932,633, with production costs taking up a whopping $34 million and post-production just shy of $10 million. The biggest production expenses were locations, set construction, set dressing, transportation, production staff and set operations. Top post-production costs included music, audio post-production, film or tape editing, special visual effects, film and lab, and of course, titles. Thanks to the 57-day shoot in New York, the local tax incentives brought the direct budget to just over $66 million.

Battle Creek’s TV Pilot, although much cheaper in comparison to a big budget film came in with a total budget of $3,564,567. Its above the line costs came to around $1 million, which included the executive producers, the cast, and the producer and director.

Battle Creek

Battle Creek (c) Sony Entertainment

Below the line costs came to $2,469,251 with the largest expenses once again coming from locations, transportation, set construction, extra talent, set operations and the camera – a neat $101,379. Post production came to $251,750. Music was the most expensive part of the pilot’s post budget, especially since the first episode didn’t feature extensive visual effects or elaborate main titles.

From these findings, it’s clear that acting leads and the strength the might bring to the show through their stardom costs a pretty penny – Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx cost $7 million and $5 million respectively – while paying for rights to well-known stories or productions, like the Annie legacy, can easily cost a whole lot more than you bargained for.

Although the costs for making a TV pilot are considerably lower than that of a mid-range family feature, one needs to remember that it’s not the whole season, or even the average episode expenses in review. Having said that, the only actor receiving a fat pay check was Josh Duhamel, who cost 10k less than transportation to and from the production!

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