J.J. Abrams directed big-budget spectacles like "Mission: Impossible 3" and "Star Trek," but even he knows movie costs are out of control.

"It is preposterous and embarrassing that movies cost what they do," the director and producer told Ben Fritz of the Los Angeles Times.

Between his blockbusters -- like the upcoming "Star Trek 2," which the Times stipulates costs upward of $180 million -- Abrams was able to make smaller-scale films like "Super 8" and "Cloverfield." Of course, with Hollywood economics the way they are, not all filmmakers are as lucky.

Despite $184 million in global ticket sales, Spike Lee was never able to get a sequel to "Inside Man" off the ground.

"That film made a ton, and it didn’t even cost a lot," Lee told Moviefone, lamenting the fact that "Inside Man 2" didn't happen.

The same issue befell Adam McKay with "Anchorman 2," though the director was eventually able to put plans in motion for the sequel.

"[T]heir numbers machine purely looked at the box office. It didn’t project off of DVD sales and TV and cultural influence. It stopped at the box office," McKay told THR when discussing the studio's reluctance to make the film.

All of which is surprising, since -- as Abrams states -- the budgets for some recent Hollywood films crested $250 million. However, those kind of films might become an anomaly in Hollywood. Universal started belt-tightening last year.

"We looked at the economics of ['At the Mountains of Madness' and 'Dark Tower'] and it just didn't make sense for us, for what we would have to put out for what we could make back," Ron Meyer, Universal Pictures president said last year, when asked about "At the Mountain of Madness" and "Dark Tower," two high-profile films the studio jettisoned. "It didn't feel secure enough for us, and that's the reason we didn't do it."

For more on Abrams' thoughts, head over to the Los Angeles Times.

[via LAT]


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  • "Heaven's Gate," 1980

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $44 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong> $3.4 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $40.6 million Director Michael Cimino had all sorts of cachet following his Oscar-winning work on "The Deer Hunter." His next feature? This costly mess, which is still synonymous with Hollywood hubris gone mad, 32 years after its release. Like "Cutthroat Island" did with Carolco, this film eventually led studio United Artists to shutter its doors.

  • "Ishtar," 1987

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $55 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $14.3 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $40.7 million The road to ruin. The Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman comedy (from director Elaine May) was rife with post-production woes, which led to bad pre-release buzz. <a href="http://www.filmlinc.com/fcm/ja06/elainemay.htm" target="_hplink">As Mike Nichols</a>, May's former comedy partner, said: "['Ishtar'] is the prime example that I know of in Hollywood of studio suicide."

  • "Cutthroat Island," 1995

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $115 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $18.5 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $96.5 million The movie that sunk (sorry) both Renny Harlin's directing career and production company Carolco, though who could be surprised? Even Harlin and star Geena Davis knew "Cutthroat Island" -- about a female pirate -- was bad news from the start. "We begged to be let go. We begged that we didn't have to make this movie," <a href="http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tb/tb110912action_director_renn" target="_hplink">he told KCRW last year</a>. "We felt that a pirate movie with a female lead was suicidal, but we were contractually obligated."

  • "The 13th Warrior," 1999

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $160 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $61.9 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $98.1 million Directed by John McTiernan ("Die Hard") and eventually re-cut by author Michael Crichton (who wrote "Eaters of the Dead," which the film was based on), "The 13th Warrior" was another career-altering bust. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/news/wenn/2003-11-20#celeb8" target="_hplink">The film left such a sour taste in the mouth of co-star Omar Sharif that he retired from acting for four years</a>.

  • "Battlefield Earth," 2000

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $103 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $29.7 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $73.3 million Based on the book by L. Ron Hubbard, "Battlefield Earth" was one of the worst-reviewed films ever. Perhaps star John Travolta would have had better luck bringing "Dianetics" to the big screen?

  • "Town & Country," 2001

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $105 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $10.3 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $94.7 Thanks to star Warren Beatty's meticulous nature, this romantic comedy took three years and millions of dollars to produce. When it was finally released in 2001, audiences didn't care: "Town & Country" was an all-time bust and marks the last time Beatty appeared onscreen. <strong>CORRECTION</strong>: An earlier version of this slide stated that Warren Beatty was the director of "Town and Country."

  • "Pluto Nash," 2002

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $120 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $7.1 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $112.9 million From "Holy Man" to "Showtime" to "Meet Dave" to the recent release "A Thousand Words," Eddie Murphy is dependable for one thing: box-office washouts. "Pluto Nash" was his most notorious, a $100 million space "comedy" that couldn't even gross $5 million <em>total</em> at the domestic box office.

  • "Gigli," 2003

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $74 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $7.2 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $66.8 million Jennifer Lopez was right: It <em>was</em> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZyZbn5baJk" target="_hplink">"turkey time."</a>

  • "The Alamo," 2004

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $145 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $25.8 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $119.2 million Forget "The Alamo."

  • "How Do You Know," 2010

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $120 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $48.6 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $71.4 million How do you know this James L. Brooks romcom was doomed for disaster from the start? Look at the budget, which spiraled out of control after reshoots.

  • "Mars Needs Moms," 2011

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $175 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $38.9 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $136.1 million <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley" target="_hplink">Lost in the uncanny valley</a>. The Robert Zemeckis-produced motion-capture spectacle, "Mars Needs Moms," was such a costly mistake, <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/disney-kills-robert-zemeckis-yellow-167415" target="_hplink">Disney canceled the director's plans to remake "Yellow Submarine" in a similar fashion</a>.

  • "Green Lantern," 2011

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $325 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $219.9 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $105.1 million Despite over $100 million in domestic grosses, "Green Lantern" wound up being a write-off for Warner Bros. Worse, any hope to turn this fringe comic character into a franchise like "Iron Man" -- one that could produce income for the studio for years to come -- was lost. Hal Jordan wasn't kidding about that whole "blackest night" thing.

  • "John Carter," 2012

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $375 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $282.7 million <strong>Total losses</strong>: $92.3 million John Carter of flops. The costly live-action debut from Pixar director Andrew Stanton <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/john-carter-cost-disney-millions-301704">reportedly lost Disney $120 million</a>, this despite grossing almost $300 million worldwide.

  • "Battleship," 2012

    <strong>Cost</strong>: $210 million <strong>Worldwide gross</strong>: $303 million "Battleship" earned $300 million worldwide, but because of high costs, <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/battleship-universal-box-office-taylor-kitsch-327972">the film reportedly lost Universal parent company NBC $150 million</a>.

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