How are big movie production budgets handled?


Big movie productions easily have budgets of hundreds of millions, even small films too. I often wonder how the money is handled.

Who is in charge of it? Do the filmakers just go up to the guy and tell them they need this much for that set piece/scene? Or is it the directors themselves?

And how do they estimate how much the movie is going to cost?

Sorry if i put in the wrong flair, I think Other would be more appropriate.

Thanks in advance.

In: 2

The producer is in charge of the money. The production company raises the money and writes checks to pay people, just like any manufacturing business.

Small films don’t have hundreds of millions–then they are no longer small films. But they do have millions.

There are varying degrees of “producing” but generally that’s where the money is handled. A producer might go to several financiers for a few hundred thousand, or even millions, and then raise money by pre-selling foreign territories, and offsetting the rest through tax incentives/credits.

On big wig Hollywood productions, it’s usually bankrolled by several production companies, because films are risky, and production companies prefer not to take on all the risk alone.

Budgets are often estimated at a top level, but are broken down on first passes by line producers. Line producers literally budget “line by line.” There are above the line costs like directors, writers, and actors, which have unique considerations to their costs. Brad Pitt, for example, may cost an intangible amount that has to be negotiated by producers or executive producers (who the line producer reports to.)

Below the line costs like the cinematographer, production manager, all the way down to production assistant and craft services or location permits etc, are part of a line producer’s skillset. The line producer has experience in different markets with these costs, and can usually put together a first pass over several weeks which will go through many, many many revisions. This also depends on the script. Do they need to blow up a car? Do they need to lock down highways? Are there child actors that need minimum schooling during weekday shoots? Are there animals that require handlers and trainers? How much will these things slow down the production? Is it a 20 day, 30 day, 5 month, 10 month production? Can it be done in 10 days? And so on and so forth.

This goes through many, many, many, many changes as things move forward.

These budgets inform how much money needs to be raised through financiers or foreign territories, and often a producer will consider that if they can attach brad Pitt, they can raise more money, for example.

This is highly simplified and by no means exhaustive, and it’s definitely acting as a catchall when in reality films get funded and budgeted at all different levels through all sorts of means, but hopefully this presents some idea.