Nov 27
MOST EXPENSIVE FILM by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Nov 27, 2009

The Producer’s main concern in movie production is the talent fee of the cast. Amidst the slump in the movie industry, talent fees of some stars remain astronomical so the budget for the entire project requires a minimum of 10 million pesos.

Another cost-intensive aspect of movie production is the set and costume. Location, as part of the set, is a main consideration. The mere transport of the cast and crew would entail a big expense. Such was what happened to Ang Tanging Pamilya when they shot on location at Gensan for the participation of Dionisia Pacquiao.

From a layman’s viewpoint, Tanging Pamilya which banners former president Joseph Estrada, Ai-ai Delas Alas and a host of young stars led by Toni Gonzaga and Sam Milby, may be the most expensive local movie.

Or perhaps it is Baler, a period movie with the setting in the early 1900s. Having a big cast, all in costume, plus the panoramic design of the background, its production cost definitely exceeded P50 million.

Ang Tanging Pamilya and Baler are just two of movies with big productions. Again, the big slice of the budget went to the cast. But having a movie with no cast and at a cost of P50 million, that’s something.

Dayo…Sa Mundo ng Elemental, which was shown in the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival, had spend P50 million for the production. A big part of the budget was poured into the creation of drawings and effects hence the animation movie is considered very expensive.

Aside from the financial consideration, an animation movie takes time to produce. Unlike an ordinary movie where the production schedule is about 15 to 30 days, an animation movie requires months to finish.

Urduja, voiced by Regine Velasquez and which was also shown last year, is another animation worth seeing. Purportedly, Urduja took no less than 3 years to make and 11 years for the concept to materialize. A pet project of TAPE’s Tony Tuviera, the production cost is estimated to have exceeded 50 million.

An animation movie involves a big number of artists. They draw the images in details like profiling an actor. The set is also drawn. Each drawing should have a consistency with shape, color and size.

The movement is provided by the animator. Using digital images, the desired effects or movement is created using an animation software. Creating the initial module is not so difficult but the hardest part is the synchronization of movements with sound.

As a come-on to attract viewers, the usual gimmick of an animation movie is to involve the voices of popular celebrities. Dayo… Sa Mundo Ng Elemental has the voices of Michael V, Pokwang, Peque Gallaga, Johnny Delgado, Noel Trinidad and Nova Villa among the long list of dubbers.

Nash Aguas of Going Bulilit fame voiced the lead character Buboy while Katrina Michelle Legaspi dubbed the character Anna, the cute manananggal who became a friend of the human Buboy. But the best draw of the movie is the theme song Lipad which was sang by Lea Salonga.

As for Urduja, Cesar Montano dubbed for the male lead character Lim Hang (Li Ma Hong), Michael V and Johnny Delgado again, BJ “Tolits” Forbes and Allan K for the major characters.

Unfortunately, both movies did not earn. There were media releases that Urduja earned a gross of P30 million while Dayo Sa Mundo Ng Elemental earned less than P6 million at the end of the festival.

In the international scene, 20th Century Fox is coming up with Avatar early next year (2010). A science fiction movie in 3-d animation, Avatar is about a planet invaded by humans. It also has the element of romance played by the Aliens.

To date, Avatar is bruited to hold the record of being the most expensive movie ever made. The 3-dimensional format entails a heavy expense. It’s like doubling the budget of a standard animation movie.

Still in production stage, the production cost had already reached $230 million. Including the marketing and other expenses, Avatar is expected to reach a total production cost of half a billion dollars. And how do they recoup that huge capital outlay?

The producer is banking on the luck of James Cameron, the same guy who came up with the blockbuster Titanic which featured Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet. That movie, produced with a $200 million budget and was not expected to earn much, grossed a total of $1.8B worldwide.

So in case the big-budgeted Avatar would not sell, 20th Century Fox would be relying on the sequel of Alvin and the Chipmunks for a return of their lost investment. In 2007, the Chipmunk animation earned $2 after spending $60 on the production and worldwide marketing.

Producing movies with big budgets is a high risk venture. But some producers want to prove their knack for earning money and at the same time setting records. And in this digital age, making a movie loaded with CGI (computer generated images) effects is getting to be the standard.

Animation is certainly expensive to produce. But animation movies, say the veterans in the American movie industry, is the current trend which was pioneered by Walt Disney Pictures. The success of The Lion King and Pocahontas in the 1990s paved the way for more animation movies.

To further punctuate the cost of animation movies, here are the current leaders in the list of expensive movies. Pirates of the Carribean, another animation, was produced in the vicinity of $300 million while 2012, the apocalyptic film with grandiose effects, had a budget of $260 million, almost the same as that of Spiderman, also an animation released in 2007.

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