FC subscription ad Film Society of Lincoln Center

28th Annual Grosses Gloss

By Jeffrey Spaulding

print Print

Whither independent filmmaking? Jeffrey Spaulding on 2002's biggest earners and losers

In Hollywood, nothing is ever as it seems. Reading the year-end reports, one could be forgiven for concluding that 2002 was a very good year. Overall box office was at a record high, and it seemed like just about every weekend brought another blockbuster to a rabid audience. The only problem with this assessment, however, is that it is dead wrong. Sure, there were a number of extremely profitable films released this year. But with costs completely out of control, the studios have backed themselves into a very dark corner-one in which middling films can create astronomical losses, and the true disasters are mind-boggling. The average cost of a Hollywood film is now over $50 million, plus an additional $32 million to market it. So on average (I repeat, on average), a studio is out $82 million before a film is released. It's enough to make one nostalgic for the $44 million scandal of Heaven's Gate.

You can read the complete version of this article in the March/April 2003 print edition of Film Comment.