Tuesday, December 15, 2015

In the Heart of the Sea – – another example of the strange economics of filmmaking technology

As previously mentioned, the digital revolution has increased the productivity of pretty much everybody involved in the filmmaking process but the greatest impact has been in the field of visual effects. The time and money required to get the impressive and impossible on the screen have decreased by orders of magnitude. Which makes it all the more strange that increasingly visual effects are causing long delays and huge cost overruns.

From Deadline (emphasis added):
In fact, the biggest problem for ITHOTS was its lofty production cost. I understand that the cost originally started at $85M but swelled as the director and his crew contended with the challenges of shooting on the water (always costly), followed by VFX which was the primary reason why the film was delayed from its original March 13 date to December 11.


  1. I meant to comment on your last post but I'm really lazy.

    But it occurred to me that strictly speaking Baumol's disease just means work with constant productivity (ie, writing) gets more expensive while output with increasing productivity (visual effects) get cheaper.

    One response would be to give writers more money, sure, but the other one would be to respond to marketing changes by purchasing less writing and more visual effects.

    Which almost explains the current world too well. It's like effects have gotten so cheap it's like corn syrup: producers feel stupid if you're not spiking their product with more of them than is good for the consumer.

    1. That's certainly reasonable, but only if you allow for the possibility of irrationally overshooting the optimal balance. I thought the people pushing the cost disease explanation generally believed in rational actors.