The cost of producing summer blockbusters is going up and up, with movie budgets regularly hitting the $200 million mark without so much as a blink in the eye from the audience. Same goes with the amount of summer blockbusters costing this much, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on production and promotion of a new product every week. It is this reckless spending that led Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to announce last week that summer blockbusters are heading for an "implosion, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever."
There are some directors that, when you give them enough money to feed a small nation for an entire year, you know that the money is still being well spent; every penny is up there on the big screen. Love them or hate them, the films of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich may be a lot of things, but "cheap" is not one of them. There are some directors that when you give them the equivalent of the GNP of Luxemburg, it finally allows them to properly realise their vision. The likes of Inception by Christopher Nolan or Avatar by James Cameron couldn't be achieved on an indie budget, and we as an audience are quite happy to sit back and watch what they can accomplish with $250 million.
Then there are the directors who started off in the world of indie budgeted movies, of the smaller independently funded films, and it was here that they did their best work. But after the success of these smaller movies, they were given the reins to bigger budgets, summer blockbusters, event movies, and everything began to fall apart. Instead of doing the logical thing and taking a step back, the next movie the'd make would cost even MORE money.
Here are five truly talented directors that Hollywood needs to stop giving so much money to and allow them to find their creativity again.
M NIGHT SHYAMALAN
Two things need to be taken away from Shyamalan; funding, and letting him write his own screenplays. Even in dreck like The Lady In The Water and The Happening, you can see that Shyamalan still has an amazing eye for cinematography and editing, but the scripts are confoundingly awful. Yes, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were fantastic, but he hasn't had a bona fide hit in 11 years, and everything he's directed he's written himself. After Earth cost $130 million to make, which is low by summer blockbuster standards, but still we should toss him someone else's script and a $5 million budget and see what he can come up with. Its sink or swim time, Shyamalan.
Tim Burton's biggest box office hit is also his biggest budgeted movie and, also, the worst movie he's ever made. His version of Alice In Wonderland may have made over $1 billion at a cost of $200 million, but it was terrible. Truly terrible. And almost every time he gets his hands on a big budget, we get something awful; Planet Of The Apes ($100 million), Mars Attacks! ($100 million)… and why exactly did Dark Shadows cost $150 million?! Bring back the inventive mind who managed to make the likes of Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands for pennies!
Perhaps his inclusion on here isn't as fully justified as some of the others, but he is perhaps the worst offender of an inflated budget not realised in the final product. He was all about the cheap 'n' cheerful back in his Bad Taste / The Frighteners era, and he managed to make the ENTIRE The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy for less than $300 million. But then came King Kong at $243 million, and then The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which has been estimated as high as $315 million. That's one Hobbit movie that cost more than all three Lord Of The Rings movies combined. The same budget has been spent on this December's This Desolation Of Smaug, and again on 2014's There And Back Again. And answer us this; did An Unexpected Journey look like it should've cost three times what The Return Of The King did? We don't think so.
The man behind the "most expensive movie ever made", Verbinski brought us Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End for the hefty sum of $300 million, not including promotional costs. But he started off small like the rest of the people on this list: tiny family comedy Mousehunt, oddball rom-com The Mexican, horror remake The Ring… then BAM! The Curse Of The Black Pearl arrived with a $140 million budget and Verbinski has never looked back. Even his animation feature Rango cost $135 million, and this summer he's bringing us The Lone Ranger - essentially a remake of TV show about a cowboy and his Indian sidekick - for $250 million. That's a quarter of a billion dollars for a western. Just let that sink in there for a moment.
One of the godfathers of DIY film-making, Raimi always seemed best suited when working under restraints. His early filmography features the likes of The Evil Dead Trilogy, The Quick & The Dead, The Gift and A Simple Plan were all very low budgets and all very good films. Then he was given the reins for Spiderman ($140 million), and it worked out just fine. Ditto for Spiderman 2 ($200 million). But then Spiderman 3 arrived, with its $258 million budget, and everything fell apart. Raimi seemed to realise this too, and went back to work on the much smaller Drag Me To Hell ($30 million), and for a while it seemed he was heading back to his roots. Then came Oz The Great & Powerful ($215 million) which was an all singing, all dancing, all CGI sugar-rush, and it just felt completely non-Raimi. Of all the directors on this list, Raimi seems the most likely to learn from his mistakes and we should thank our lucky stars he passed on the adaptation of World Of Warcraft.