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Does a Film’s Budget Impact Your Expectations?

I review a lot of superhero movie on this site, not only the big budget summer blockbusters, but there’s plenty of low budget independent superhero-themed movies out there, and there are especially many different low-to-no budget fan films out there. And I notice that I tend to judge a movie’s special effects more forgivingly if it’s coming from a low budget film. If a no-budget film can manage special effects that look like they came from the height of the 90’s, I’m happily impressed by it. But on the other hand when a megabudget blockbuster comes out with special effects that don’t look 100% amazing, like many people felt with the recent Jack the Giant Slayer, then I’m disappointed.


I’d even go so far as to say that the quality of acting is impacted on what I know about the film before going into it. If I know that the cast is all a bunch of amateurs that got no money for it and have never acted before in their life, but are obviously giving it their all then I’m much more forgiving of a badly acted scene than I am if I’m watching another megabudget blockbuster with a highly paid and respected actor who’s just phoning in a performance.

When looking at some of my favorite movies, many of them are admittedly either those big budget summer blockbusters or an animated movie, but I do also enjoy some of the lower budget movies… which reminds me of a list I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time, but that’s beside the point. So what about you, do you have more forgiveness if you know that the movie is a lower budget movie, or even a fan film, or does the budget really matter? Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on April 14, 2013, in Blogs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. I agree with you. I expect on a big budget film for the special effects to be amazing and of course that is not always the case, which is mind boggling.

    • I think sometimes the director/producer’s idea of how far technology has gotten isn’t always in line with reality. But what about the other side, if a low budget movie has low budget effects, are you more forgiving of them?

      • Yea I’m a bit more forgiving but at the same time you can’t let the budget always be an excuse because there are ones that do a pretty good job.

  2. I usually don’t think about the budget at all. However, former credibility of actors / directors does automatically imply some expectations.

    Newer actors / directors that I’m watching for the first time I may be more impressed with given I haven’t seen them before.

    • That’s a good point too, there’s more expectation on a script bitten by David Goyer than by some random person, though whether that’s good or bad considering he has writing credits for both the Dark Knight and Ghost Rider 2 remains to be seen.

      I suppose a better example would be expectations for the Dark Knight Rises vs. Chronicle. DKR failed to live up to some’s expectations while Chronicle was an unexpected surprise.

  3. This is an intriguing question and I would undoubtedly respond yes.

    Your example of Jack the Giant Slayer is a good one. I gave Oz the Great and Powerful a 5/10 because it quite simply didn’t deliver the goods when it had all the resources, money and talent to be a fantastic movie. The Green Lantern is another recent example. There was just no excuse for how poor it was. None at all.

    On the other hand, a film like Another Earth, Moon or The Raid that has so many limitations financially gets an extra bump when I rate it. I have a practical film degree so I’ve experienced the headaches of getting funding/favours/actors for a miniscule, no-budget production so when these films come around they really inspire me.

    • I don’t have that kind of experience, but I can often tell when a film has little to no budget, and when it comes up with something great, it can be pretty amazing.

  4. I don’t know that I’d say I’m more forgiving of effects and acting based on budget exactly, as I don’t even really base my expectations that much off of a film’s budget. Let’s be honest, there have been a lot of big budget films with lousy acting, unimpressive special effects, wretched directing, miserable writing, or any combination thereof. I try to base my expectations off of the people involved and the ‘type’ of movie more than anything else.

    Of course I’m only human so I can get caught up in the hype train and the like, but nobody’s perfect right.

    • Although usually the people involved and ‘type’ of movie are directly related to the budget. I do think it’s great when a director is able to alternate between a big budget feature and a low budget passion piece.

      • Argh, I had a nice response all written up and then, bam, power outage. Stupid Charlottesville power grid.

        Anyhoo, suffice to say that I think it’s the people involved more than the budget that drives my expectations. Just take, for example, the case of last year’s Battleship with a budget of about $209 million versus The Avengers which weighed in with a budget of $220-ish million. Not that huge a budget difference in the grand scheme of things and not only do I enjoy the writers/directors/actors involved in The Avengers more, but Battleship was pretty obviously trying to ape Michael Bay. I don’t much care for Michael Bay’s directorial style which is mostly why I don’t expect great things from Pain and Gain in spite of liking a decent number of the actors involved. On the other hand I have high hopes for The World’s End because it’s the next Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright film.

        So basically does it really count if your consideration is the people involved as opposed to the budget? Even though that budget is what pays for those folks not every film with the same budget ends up with the right mix of people. And that’s completely ignoring the fact that there’s a lot of good actors out there who do both big budget as well as smaller budget films. Granted a lot of the really big names aren’t those people but it’s still a lot of really talented folks.

  5. Not really, I do however judge them by it for example a $250M being crap is inexcusable in a world of starving people.

  6. Coming here I was sure I’d be saying I didn’t expect anything when it comes to budget and films. After all you never truly know where the budget is going. How much was actually spent on the effects as opposed to marketing and actors involved. I still believe that, sort of, but I do expect bigger budget films to look like there’s been some effort put into them. In terms of FX, actors and heck even quality of the film. It makes it feel like my money for the ticket’s been worth it.

    Conversely, lower budget films I still have fairly high expectations. Because more often than not, they usually blow me away too. But the lower budget makes it feel like it’s been more of a labor or love rather than for the paycheque, so those involved truly want to be there. Does that make sense?

    • It’s interesting to have high expectations for a low budget movie in a completely different way. At least for a low budget movie that’s good enough to get a release since those usually only have story and acting to fall back on, where a big budget movie can try to fall back on the wow factor which doesn’t always work.

  7. I would not say that the budget raises or lowers my expectations going in. However, after viewing a film if I see it has a huge budget and it is terrible I may hold it against a film, almsot as if it was another nail in the coffin.
    Conversely, If I find out a film I really enjoyed had a small budget I find myself enjoying it all the more. For instance I recently watched Primer and heard they shot the whole film for seven grand.

    good topic Bubba

    • Sometimes having a lower budget than the filmmaker thinks they need is actually beneficial to the movie, even though it can cause a lot of extra stress on the producer, it often results in some unique problem solving that turns out a better result than the initial idea.

  8. I’m more forgiving on a low-budget film, but it has its limits. It still has to be done well “for what it is”, and if something is just laughably bad, then it’s open for derision regardless.

  9. The special effects in the film “Upside Down” were so good on such a small budget that it made me enjoy the film a LOT more than I would have otherwise. Conversely, the Burly Brawl in “Matrix Reloaded” was so terrible that the entire trilogy lost me right then and there.
    Maybe it’s unfair, but a film’s budget definitely colors my opinion.

    • Those are some great examples, I’m really wanting to see Upside Down, and I totally agree that the Burly Brawl was something done with the height of technology with way too much money, but it was just a step too far in the wrong direction when the tech wasn’t quite ready and ended up with a visual mess.

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