What Is A Blockbuster Movie?


The term blockbuster used to describe a studio franchisable movie with a production budget of at least $100 million. This compares with a typical studio movie which often has a production budget of between $30 to $60 million.

The term “blockbuster” has frightening military origins, but is now used to mean a film that has blown the box office away with its high production costs, reach and production budget.

Blockbusters are large in scope, scale (thematically and visually). Most importantly they are entertaining. Typically the fall in the high concept action genre and must play well internationally.

What makes a successful blockbuster film? Is it huge thrills, spills and visual effects? They help, but ultimately its audience engagement. How emotionally attached are they to the film? Is there a clear story spine and theme that speaks to global audiences?

4 Quadrant Movies

They are traditionally classed as FOUR QUADRANT FILMS which are basically 14-24 male and females and 25-49 year old men and women. Apparently audiences stop going to the cinema when they turn fifty.

Blockbuster films were once heavily skewed to the 14-24 year old demographic because they were repeat customers.

Today this demographic is becoming increasingly splintered as boys spend more time on the internet and mobile entertainment. Hopefully this will signal a move to films catering to older audiences.

How Are Blockbuster Films Budgeted?

Some juggernauts such as “Star Wars” and “Batman vs Superman” had budgets of over $200 million dollars.

Above the line/ Below the line costs

These are production budgets with typical breakdowns of 15-20% for A-list talent, director and producer. These are called above the line costs.

The remaining 75-80% of the budget refers to the physical production and post production costs, aka below the line costs.

P&A Costs

The P&A (prints and advertising) budgets vary for studio films, but typically lie within the 30-50% of the production budget range. A blockbuster film first starts its advertising up to a year in advance with promos such as “coming next summer”.

The main buzz begins around 2 -3 weeks before a film opens. This includes billboards, TV slots, viral marketing campaigns, premieres and product tie ins.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Oladapo says:

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    1. I don’t mind you republishing my posts but I need correct acknowledgement. Please state that all articles are by J.G. Sarantinos

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