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Box Office Mojo

Adjusting for inflation (always tricky) the two hour pilot episode of the 1978 ‘Battlestar Galactica’ was $28m. That’s huge for the time, but it was planned as a movie as well, at a time when cinema was in the grip of ‘Star Wars’ mania. so the cost was a smart investment.

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Oh ok, I didn’t realise it was planned that way, I thought it was just a cheap cash-in :smiley:

Fair enough, that explains why I didn’t think it was low quality.

Edit: no, wait a minute, now I’ve properly comprehended what you were saying. $28m today is still a pathetic sum for an SF movie, so relatively speaking my senses should have been telling me “this is a cheap-ass movie”, and yet somehow I didn’t think that :confused:

‘Star Wars’ was $11m, in 1970’s dollars.

That’s approximately $42m in today’s money.

I realised that was confusing.



yes this is a complete and fully eloquent sentence

I’d suggest that in TV you have the same sets and a smaller cast for most scenes, so you can plow through loads of screen footage in a relatively short time. Whereas with a movie they tend to move from scene to scene, rarely in the same place twice, so it’s not as efficient a process. It could take a week to film 10 minutes, whereas with TV in a week you could film wards of an hours footage. Not to mention that movies tend to have higher production values.

As to why? I guess it’s down to the money. There’s more money in movies so they spend more, whereas there’s less money in TV so they spend less. The size of the medium helps dictate the budget you spend. It’s a bit like comparing a Division 3 football team to a Premier league football team. One spends so much more but if you’re just wanting to watch football you don’t notice where all the money went.

Spending more money because you have more money to spend it a universal thing from what I’ve seen.


It used to come down to the screens they were viewed on. One of the best descriptions I’ve heard is Will Smith talking about acting for film vs TV and the broad differences. Detail isn’t as important with smaller screens and expectations used to be lower. I would say as home TV screens go up in picture quality and size, some of that expectation has risen as well.

To be fair, “TV quality” probably meant BBC for you. :wink:


You can directly compare very few films and TV shows, but you can compare the result of working methods and aspirations.

The Swedish version of ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ was made, in 2009, for $11m.

When Hollywood remade it in 2011, they spent $90m.

Now, some of that money went on the director, the writer, the well known cast etc., but the rest was how Hollywood movies are made.

It’s up to the individual to decide if it made the film better?


No, we knew the BBC budgets were terrible. The American shows looked much better, they were just generally more stupid :stuck_out_tongue: .

Battlestar Galactica looked great on big or small screen. We honestly came out of the BSG pilot movie and compared it favourably with Star Wars. Then when we eventually got to see the full series on TV, the deficiencies in the writing became apparent.


Production time is the biggest difference.

TV shows have traditionally taken about a three weeks to produce an episode (one week preproduction, one week production, one week postproduction) with in many cases about 20 episodes per season. You would have different episodes in different stages during the same week. Technology has increased to the point where a lot more is possible but there are still limits, with time being the major one. (@steveuk can probably give you the dissertation on VFX.) There is still a ton of VFX used in TV series but it is for far more mundane purposes:

Throw in that a lot of television is still ad-supported so costs need to be kept down so they remain profitable.

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It’s actually interesting in some other aspects, past the teasing, because there is also the trade off between money and time. They struggled with sci-fi but UK sitcoms and soaps could often look a lot better than many US equivalents with wobbly sets and almost never any location shots because they made fewer of them.

The schedule on US soaps being especially brutal with daily episodes.


Two words: talking heads.

Movement costs money. Simple as that.


I went to go to the movies today and was shocked that nothing was opening at the downtown theater near my work. It feels like it’s been a dry summer overall.

These are the big summer movies this year (generously starting the “summer” with Endgame’s release on April 26 and ending the first week in August): Endgame, Detective Pikachu, John Wick 3, Aladdin, Godzilla, Rocketman, Dark Phoenix, Secret Life of Pets 2, Men in Black, Shaft, Toy Story 4, Child’s Play, Annabelle, Spider-Man, Midsommar, Stuber, The Lion King, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Hobbs & Shaw.

And obviously not all of these were very “big”. And outside of Star Wars this holidays don’t look much better. Awful year for movies.


Randomly I looked back 10 years ago to 2009, and I guess it wasn’t much better for big releases. But that summer did have Star Trek, Moon, District 9, Up, Dogtooth, Drag Me to Hell, The Limits of Control, The Hurt Locker, Thirst, Inglorious Basterds, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and Ponyo, which seems a hell of a lot more robust than this year.

What is funny is how “big” comedies have mostly disappeared. In summer 2009, we also got Observe and Report, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Proposal, The Hangover, Land of the Lost, Brüno, Year One, (500) Days of Summer, and Funny People. Not all of those are good but a fair amount of them are, and that is a ton of decent-sized comedies. That is something that is almost totally gone.


Part of that is because Netflix buys up a lot of comedies and most of the films you just listed flopped badly in the theater. But so far this year has had:

The hustle, isn’t it romantic, little, what men want, book smart, murder mystery, always be my maybe, and wine country.

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Crazy Rich Asians made a lot of money last summer.

Looking at the all time chart for ‘romantic comedy’ though only two films from the last decade are in the top 20 (Crazy Rich Asians and Silver Linings Playbook), which considering inflation is not great. In the ‘all time’ list all of them are from the last 10 years apart from Titanic.

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That same article I linked above touches on that:

Where Are the Great Comedies?

The easiest way to see problems in market structure is to look at the comedy segment of the market, which is a form of art that has very limited economies of scale. One could quibble about creativity, but it’s generally thought in Hollywood that the last great comedy franchise to launch was The Hangover , created in 2009. There have been a few others, like Pitch Perfect and 21 Jump Street, but those both came out around the same time, in 2012. There effectively have been no comedy smash hits for nearly a decade.

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If those are the examples for great comedies, I am glad they’re gone.


“Dying is easy; comedy is hard” - Edmund Kean.

What are “great comedies”? So many are now dated, racist, sexist, stupid, clumsy, passé, very racist, obsolete, or references material no longer in the public perception.

Maybe we should have a thread, or, maybe, for once, we shall agree (we MillarWorldlarians).

Some that hold up for me:

  • Go West The Marx Brothers.
  • Analyze This and Analyze That with Billy Crystal and Bobby deNiro.
  • Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Comedy is really hard!


This is a few years back now, so maybe worth a revisit by this point.

Adam McKay’s comedies were pretty good and successful. I’d consider The Big Short to be a comedy but not a broad comedy; however, The Other Guys was a terrifically funny movie.