J.J. Abrams: Movie budgets are ‘preposterous’


“It is preposterous and embarrassing that movies cost what they do.”

So says J.J. Abrams, who over the past six years has directed and produced movies that cost less than $25 million, such as “Cloverfield,” and as much as $185 million, the cost for next summer’s “Star Trek” sequel.

He has never, however, reached the heights of $250 million or more that was estimated to have been spent on the production of recent pictures such as “The Dark Knight Rises” and “John Carter.”


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But coming from the world of television, where the $13 million budget on his pilot for “Lost” counted as a Guinness World Record at the time, Abrams says he’s eager to find ways for movies to cost less, as difficult as that is.

That’s good news for the head of Bad Robot Productions, as he has so far made movies exclusively at Paramount Pictures, which has developed a reputation as the most frugal and conservative of Hollywood’s major studios, as a story in Tuesday’s Times details.

Abrams admits he has been on the receiving end of difficult negotiations for that exact reason.

“Certainly on ‘Star Trek’ and the sequel and on ‘Mission: Impossible’ three and four, we had massive budget issues always,” he said. “Yet 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.”

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Abrams admits the process can be frustrating. But given the difficult economics of the film business, he considers himself an ally for Paramount.

“I am as interested in and obsessed with what can be done in the feature world for a price as anyone at any studio,” said Abrams, who’s looking to expand Bad Robot’s slate in the coming years. “I feel like it is incumbent upon filmmakers today to treat it like their own money.”


Paramount Pictures is in a three-week intermission

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