Disney Chairman Alan Horn Says the STAR WARS Films Will Have Budgets in the $175 Million to $200 Million Range

by     Posted 182 days ago

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Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn spoke a bit this morning about the highly anticipated sequel Star Wars: Episode VII, but his comments were essentially confirming things we already know: the cast isn’t 100% set yet, principal photography hasn’t begun, George Lucas is consulting, and future Star Wars films could return to the May release date strategy.  However, he also revealed a fascinating nugget with regards to the budgets of the new Star Wars movies.  One might think that a movie as big as Episode VII would have a budget of epic proportions, but the number that Horn quoted is actually pretty in line with other recent tentpole films.  More after the jump.

jj-abrams-star-wars-episode-7While speaking at Loyola (via Variety’s Marc Graser), Horn revealed that the budgets for the new Star Wars films will be “around $175 million to $200 million.”  Horn is speaking not only about Episode VII, but also Episode VIII and IX as well as the in-development spinoff movies.  Though that’s certainly not a small chunk of change, it’s a step down from John Carter’s $250 million and The Lone Ranger’s $215 million.  Of course, those two films suffered production troubles and marked big losses for the Mouse House (as well as the ousting of then-chairman Rich Ross and Horn’s subsequent hiring), so maybe the studio is trying to stay a bit more conservative moving forward.

The number that Horn quoted is actually right in line with the recent string of Marvel Studios films.  The Avengers clocked in at $220 million, Iron Man 3 had a $200 million budget, Thor: The Dark World had a $170 million budget, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier also came in at $170 million.  Episode VII will probably more closely mirror the scale and scope of Avengers as opposed to the standalone sequels, so it’s possible we could see the number rise slightly above Horn’s $200 million cap, but it’s clear that the studio isn’t giving J.J. Abrams carte blanche just because it’s Star Wars.  That being said, this will still be Abrams’ highest budget to date, and he made Star Trek Into Darkness look pretty damn epic with $190 million.

Everyone knows that Episode VII is going to make an insane amount of money, so once it dominates the box office of December 2015, it’s possible we could see an increase in budget for Episode VIII and IX while the standlone films remain closer to $175 million—just like Marvel’s strategy with Avengers movies vs. standalone stories.

But we’re still very early days on Episode VII so a lot can change in the interim.  For now, though, Horn’s ballpark number gives us an idea of Disney’s Star Wars strategy moving forward.

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  • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

    The question is: Will they target an adult audience or a young audience ?

    • Neven

      Both. That’s the point of this movie.

      • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

        I hope so.
        So no more younglings with half a melon on their heads ?
        We need also a scoundrel will the charisma of Han Solo.

      • HORSEFLESH

        Isn’t that Han Solo’s job?

      • The Flobbit

        That is not the point of the movie. At all.

    • milo

      Hopefully the powers that be have learned plenty with the experience of having Marvel and Pixar in the studio and will be able to find a good balance across a wide age range. You can keep both kids and adults happy without having to dumb things down with dopey and cutesy humor.

    • MITIOR

      We all know the answer to that, star wars is for all ages

  • TigerFIST

    Adam

    I agree. I feel like 200 mil isn’t enough. I was thinking maybe $250 mil. What’s crazy is Avengers was 220 million and it still wasn’t enough money. We would’ve had more hulk and aliens but they ran out of cash. Joss Whedon said that twice in the Avengers commentary. What do you think age of ultron’s budget will be? I think of should be at 300 million. That a lot bit it’s damn near obvious the film will make more than the first. I predict 2 billion if it’s amazing. With the HULK playing a major part of the film I see no other way. What do you think?

    • Scullibundo

      The difference is that unlike Whedon, JJ Abrams knows how to get the money spent up on the screen. Star Trek Into Darkness cost $30m less than The Avengers, but the production value of Abrams and co made it look much more expensive than Whedon’s film.

      • The Flobbit

        That is true. Abrams has tremendous production values.

      • Hitchens

        Still didn’t help his script. Into Darkness was not just an insult to Trek fans, it was insulting to general audiences.

      • Burt Valawzio

        and the avengers was barely better than that.

      • milo

        It wasn’t his script. Abrams directed both star trek movies but didn’t write either.

      • Hitchens

        Meant his script as in the script for his movie. and a director is responsible for what appears on screen. while he or she may not have credit they are responsible. many of the decisions were just poor writing (i blame lindelof most) and should have been redone on the set if need be.

    • scififan

      You’re forgetting one of the biggest differences between the Marvel movies and this new Star Wars sequel – the cast. By the time The Avengers came around, you have multiple established actors who have already been around for a few movies so they will cost more.

      The second is the skill level involved. Whedon is used to TV production, and it’s highly visible in The Avengers with some of the sets and green screen use. Abrams seems to have a much better grasp on the design and look of his films now that he has several large scale Hollywood films under his belt.

      The idea that throwing money at a movie will make it better is foolish – the best movies come from constraint and overcoming challenges… not just to CGI everything away with piles of cash the studio could use to make several other movies. Even if there is a huge expected box office turnout, I’m glad that they’re still holding themselves to a budget. The original Star Wars had a limited budget, and it’s still the reason why we’re excited about this series.

  • Tim

    I think the decision to limit the budget to more reasonable areas is a really wise thing. Being the new director of a film series like Star Wars is difficult enough; giving Abrams a good budget but one that isn’t extravagant gives him some boundaries which isn’t bad at all considering how big you *could* make a Star Wars films. Point is – This is more than enough money to make a great movie, but not so much that Abrams could or would get completely out of control.

    • Highlander

      200M is a Huge budget…. If they stop the excessive CGI and actually tell a story the movie will come out very well… Look at ANH and ESB. ESB had better everything from a better budget but in today’s dollars is not a 200M movie.

      • Tim

        I don’t think you can compare it to the original SW films, it’s just a different industry now. But I think you could compare it to other tent-poles of our current era and it fits snugly right in with the rest of them, and it should. But it’s not extravagant by today’s means.

      • Burt Valawzio

        the prequels all came in around 100 each which was still pretty reasonable for their time- considering jurassic park 3 in 2001 had a budget of 125 and it is basically a Sy Sfy channel b-movie-

        that being said..prior to these star wars sequels- episodes 1-3 and 5-6 were independent films out of Lucas’s pocket, i would highly bet that better tabs were kept on the budget than what would happen in the insanely huge world of Disney… look at the lone ranger costing 250ish…

      • milo

        Those low budget numbers have been disputed, many people have said they were only that low because they were fudging the numbers on how much ILM was being paid. With the FX company under the same parent company they could do stuff like that.

      • Burt Valawzio

        well they should complain because ILM did a mediocre job on 2 and 3.

      • Burt Valawzio

        well they should complain because ILM did a mediocre job on 2 and 3.

      • SubSumeYou

        Agree.

  • Guest

    Thats not even a “HUGE” Budget by Todays Standards…

  • zazu

    I think the opening atmosphere in December is much better than in May. I would like to watch the new Star Wars movies in winter.

    • Scullibundo

      Well I wouldn’t get used to it. There’s no way in hell Disney are going to keep the same date for the other Star Wars films in the years immediately following 2015.

  • jk

    If one lesson should be learned from the prequels, a big budget does not a good movie make. Just hope the story delivers.

    • Scullibundo

      The prequels were actually made for a relatively modest budget for what they are. All of them cost $115m or less.

      • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

        Which makes sense. 90%of the movies were CGI

    • MITIOR

      I liked the prequels.. there, somebody has to say it.

    • MITIOR

      I liked the prequels.. there, somebody has to say it.

    • MITIOR

      I liked the prequels.. there, somebody has to say it.

      • The Flobbit

        You are a traitor.

      • Lee Harvey Cobblepot

        Flag-burnin’, childhood-rapin’…

      • Hitchens

        The Plinkett reviews of the prequels will show you how wrong you are to like them if you’re not under the age of 13.

      • SenorApplesauce

        Indeed. They not only show that they are bad Star Wars movies, but bad movies from top to bottom.

      • Hitchens

        “What’s wrong with your face!?”

      • MITIOR

        I don’t have any respect for those reviews, they’re just nitpicking about everything and are taking advantage to the dissatisfaction people felt when the movies were released. Make a youtube video hating on the prequels and you will get a lot of views.

        If you’re interested in another point of view, I recommend reading “Cryogenic” explanation (post #42) of why he loves the prequels and what he got out of them, who knows?, you might agree with some of his reasons. Here’s the link over in theforce.net forums: http://boards.theforce.net/threads/is-the-prequel-era-of-star-wars-over-if-so-what-did-it-all-mean-to-you.50019113/page-2

      • Hitchens

        They’re not bashing them because they’re bad Star Wars movies but because they’re bad movies in general. Any film student can see what an actual director, tons of producers and actors and crew should have seen but were either too afraid to say anything to George or figure they’d make money anyway.

  • rivertreeradar

    175-200 seems kinda like a low number but considering they own ilm in reality it’s more like 350

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  • Steven Fox

    Budget is more than enough, the right cast and story is far more concerning.

  • Steven Fox

    Budget is more than enough, the right cast and story is far more concerning.

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  • cinemajudge

    Budget for me is not as important as script,characters and entertainment. I would love to have the original cast be the focus of this film and maybe mentor the next cast members for future films. My biggest wish is that they return to using models for all of the creatures & spacecrafts etc. The return to puppets instead of CGI would add tremendously to bringing Star Wars to its rightful place on top of Cinematic glory. The craftsmanship of models and puppets is what set the series apart from cheap imitators. I think we all can agree that the computer animation of Yoda was a disgrace. I beg the film makers to avoid the same mistakes and do it right.

    • MITIOR

      I think I can disagree with your opinion of CG Yoda. Puppet Yoda has a sentimental value to many fans but CG Yoda is far superior in acting, do not forget that animation is also a work of love and it has the same value as handling a puppet.
      Having said that, I think there should be a combination of both, CG and practical effects. Why not get the best of both worlds?

      • cinemajudge

        Yup, best of both worlds would be nice.

      • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

        Britney Spears as Princess Leia’s daughter ?

      • cinemajudge

        How a desperate act of casting could cause an implosion of a franchise. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t Star Wars. I can’t stop laughing at the idea. Very funny!!!! :-)

      • MITIOR

        Or kim kardashian, you know, with Starwars trying to be multicultural and everything! hah

  • milo

    Strawman says “Kids in a movie makes it a kids movie?”

  • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

    I love kids in movies : Goonies, Home alone, H.P 1-2-3, E.T, Jurassic parc, Jumanji, Empire of the sun.

    I hate kids in movies : star wars Prequels, the last airbender

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