More on the cost and value of a film

I was thinking about what I wrote the other day about the value of a film, and it occurred to me that there was an interesting area that should be thought of a little more deeply: the 3 million dollar film.

You have to read back for the full comparisons, but these lower budgeted films I compared to a family run or individually owned restaurant. I would guess that unless eating out means McD’s or Applebee’s to you, you all know what kind of place I’m talking about. It’s not a chain, or corporate owned. The food, as I said before, can be two dollar tacos or fifty dollar steaks, so there is a wide range of what is offered in this budget range, and a wide range of prices charged. By budget range, I’m basically talking about start up costs, but each film is a new start up.

Anyway, I was trying to figure out a pricing model for films that would be sort of equivalent, and I thought of wine. Wine comes from huge conglomerates, but also comes from family run vineyards. Those vineyards produce wines of varying value and quality – not only between vineyards, but also year to year. What is interesting in this comparison is that the quality of the wine, the higher the price. This may seem obvious, but, remember, in the world of film, all films cost the same, no matter how good they are.

So, if a vineyard produces a very fine wine year, they are rewarded with higher prices.

How is that quality picked? Basically, by critics. There are people who genuinely have a talent for picking wine and there are those with clout, like Robert Parker, and when they say a wine is good, dealers charge more for it.

The same thing happens with a film. If a film does well at a festival, ie. it is well reviewed or generally liked, a sales agent representing that film can generally sell it for more. The distributors buying the film are depending on more people seeing it to recoup their extra costs.

Wouldn’t it make sense that a film that was well reviewed or generally well liked could ask a little more for their film?

I go to the wine store and I generally know that for 10 bucks, I’m going to get some crappy, though maybe drinkable wine. But for 20-30 bucks I’m expecting something better. And if I ever paid more, I’d expect something special. Wouldn’t it be nice if films fit into that pricing range, where we had an idea of what we were going to get by the price we were going to pay for it. After all, sometimes we’re fine with the 10 dollar bottle and once in a while, we’ll feel like something extra special where the wine will be more of an experience and not just something to go with the meat. So, I’m not saying that anyone would pay fifty dollars to go see a movie (would they?), but I’m sure they’d pay twenty if they knew they were going to get something better than the ten dollar film. And a five dollar film would have a value of its own, competing against the more expensive films as something that could still be good, but maybe not as complex; maybe as something you do on a date, where it’s really just an appetizer for dinner and a night out.

I think there is one more part of this economic model that I want to look at. I’ll cough that one up in the next day or two.

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