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Budget Beasts: Analysing Godzilla Minus One’s Tiny Budget

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Giant monsters are in vogue again – although, it’s hard to say if they ever truly vanished. The 16-year gap between Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (1998) and Gareth Edwards’ movie of the same name (2014) still brought us the talking raptors of Jurassic Park III (2001), King Kong (2005), and Cloverfield (2008).

Sharknado

The monster genre is balanced atop tens of low-budget efforts like Sharknado (made with $2 million and now up to its sixth entry) and the related Lavalantula. A dedicated group of game developers works to put scaly, furry, and angry things on our screens, too.

Red Tiger’s Primate King on the Paddy Power website (https://games.paddypower.com/c/slots) offers something Kong-like to players, while Piranha Pays echoes a 1978 movie about ravenous fish. Mega Don: Feeding Frenzy returns an ancient terror to the present, just as The Meg did in 2018.

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A conversation topic always emerges from monster flicks, one mentioned already in this article – budget. How much did that rubber outfit cost to make? More relevant to the present, how did the global blockbuster Godzilla Minus One look so good with just $15 million to play with?

Taika Waititi

First, $15 million is a lot of money – but not when compared to the $150 million Legendary and Warner Bros. threw at Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Its Japanese companion, Godzilla Minus One, looked almost as good, though, prompting Collider to ask if the movie had “school[ed] Hollywood”.

Hollywood budgets are overblown, especially when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson commands $20-$50 million per starring role. Still, concerns about money spent vs. overall quality have haunted the American industry for much of the past decade.

Superhero movies are a good example. Director Taika Waititi laughed at the quality of the CGI in his movie Thor: Love and Thunder in a Vanity Fair interview (more here: https://www.theringer.com/marvel-cinematic-universe/), suggesting that scrappy VFX is an open secret in the studios of Los Angeles.

Industrial Action

Godzilla Minus One’s low budget may not be evidence of a careful hand. Following industrial action in 2022 by US movie guilds SAG and AFTRA, Japanese actor Kanji Furutachi revealed to the Japan Times (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/) that professionals in his country have no such bargaining ability.

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Wages are kept artificially low in Japan and Godzilla Minus One’s $15 million piggybank was all the production team had available, to put it another way.

While distressing for Japanese creators, it nevertheless begs the question of where Hollywood spends its money. Godzilla x Kong did not have a particularly expensive cast, at least, not to the extreme presented by The Rock, featuring mostly up-and-comers and relative unknowns.

Blank Check

AOL suggests that money paid to executives is one of the bigger cash sinks but, with such high budgets, frugality comes at a premium. Why would a studio need to avoid spending money when they have carte blanche to spend it all?

Unfortunately, Godzilla Minus One’s success on a shoestring seems to have highlighted two industries in crisis.

In Japan, artists don’t get their dues. In the US, blank-check spending is combined with subsidies from distant states like New Jersey and Oklahoma, creating a near-endless money pit – without a decent CGI background in sight.

Don’t miss your favorite movie moments because you have to pee or need a snack. Use the RunPee app (Androidor iPhone) when you go to the movies. We have Peetimes for all wide release films every week, including Fall Guy, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Civil War and coming soon Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, IF, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and many others. We have literally thousands of Peetimes—from classic movies through today’s blockbusters. You can also keep up with movie news and reviews on our blog, or by following us on Twitter @RunPee. If there’s a new film out there, we’ve got your bladder covered.

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