I was looking at the budget for “Fate of the Furious,” and it was $150 million, or some sort of mid-six figures. That’s like, wow, for a first feature, if this is what you’re making, you’re going to make more than this thing that’s already pretty expensive. But for a long time, I just thought the big movies were all done, and it seemed impossible to do any, and so the question is, how much more are you going to make? For some small indie movie I’d been considering, the first 10 to 20 percent of the budget is probably going to be enough to keep going. The bigger the budget, the more you’re going to be asking for. So when someone asked me to direct “The Great Gatsby,” I never thought it would really go anywhere. My idea of a big-budget movie is the one where you go out and sell a few thousand tickets. How many people did “Gatsby” gross? And that’s not a bad goal, but it’s not really mine. Maybe I wish I had said, “Gatsby” grossed the equivalent of a million dollars—which is why we’re in a room now to discuss the budget for “Gatsby.” I’m actually really pleased that I didn’t.
The question of profitability is something that can’t really be ignored.
Well, I think they always say profitability is the important thing but they’re also not saying it’s the only thing. You might not like the idea of a $150 million budget, so it’s good that you’re figuring out the profitability in what you’re doing. That’s a good idea.
“What if I do like a big studio film?” That’s like asking “What if I did like a big-budget film, but not a billion?”
One thing that I’ve noticed so far is that the studios all have a big marketing machine. They put up billboards and ads and billboards in their cities. They put all these billboards about “Gatsby.” I don’t know, my first thought was “What if I do like a big studio film?” But I like that the most successful films—it’s like that with indie stories, too, because they all seem to get to the kind of success that they are because there’s always a big marketing operation.
What I’m working on right now is “Titanic.” I have some friends who are a bit younger,
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