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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The cost of dog wrangling…

“The dog has got more fun out of Man than Man has got out of the dog, for the clearly demonstrable reason that Man is the more laughable of the two animals.” ~ James Thurber ~

On October 16, 2009, when Warner Brothers released the film, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, based on Maurice Sendack’s classic award-winning picture book, it was reported that the total production budget for the movie was $100 million.

Although one might gulp at that figure, it is actually on the moderate side by Hollywood production standards.

Films such as Disney’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL, released a few weeks after WILD THINGS, was reported to have a total budget of $190 million and that reflected a running time of 100 minutes, which was the exact same length as WILD THINGS.

What drives film production costs? Many things. Budgets vary based on anything from special effects to actors’ salaries and sometimes, simply, just not getting the perfect shot in one or two takes.

In breaking down the budget for WILD THINGS, one can easily extrapolate that each finished minute of the film cost $1 million dollars to produce.

According to The Numbers, an online box office database, as of today’s date, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE has generated a worldwide gross of $99,123,656 and US DVD sales of $27,180,878 – so it is showing some signs of recouping production dollars.

The video that is embedded below will give you a small idea of why movie production costs escalate. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at a bit of animal wrangling that took place on the set of WILD THINGS – it’s titled “The Absurd Difficulty Of Filming A Dog,” and is part of Road Show Film’s YouTube channel.

The clip was shot on location on Edenhurst Avenue in Atwater Village and includes: first assistant director Thomas Patrick Smith; producer Vincent Landay; director of photography Lance Acord, and young actor Max Records.

Pay close attention to the man in the white shirt and tie in this short – it’s the film’s director Spike Jonze.

At the very end of the video, you can calculate for yourself the cost of the few brief seconds of screen time that translate into dog wrangling. Amazing, isn’t it?


Anonymous said...


Single and Sane said...

That's hysterical. I always wondered how they shoot scenes with animals. It's a lot more complicated than I ever imagined!

Paula Slade said...

Iku - Thanks for stopping by. Sorry you're feeling so tired.

Single and Sane - It is complicated, and a lot of hurry up and wait! :)