$3,000,000-$5,000,000 FEATURE FILM (Part 1: Produce a Product Placement Movie)

THE $12-15 MILLION MOVIE (Save $9-10 Million):

Once again, always remember “Hollywood Lies”.

Actually Hollywood (aka: 6 major studios) doesn’t lie…. it markets, it promotes, it creates value.

And a beast of marketing is to embellish, enhance and exaggerate to create a higher perceived value for its product to the consumer/viewer.

Therefore, every movie has 2 budgets. One is “real” the other is “BullSh*t”

The First one, the real one, is the true budget (aka: Negative Cost) of what it truly costs to make the movie and only the accountant, producer and IRS knows the exact number and the Second is the inflated hyped budget (aka: Marketing Costs) that is presented to the consumer.

Hollywood inflates it’s budgets and a studio publicity department uses the “inflated budget” to market it’s about-to-be-released feature film by an amount of 300%-600% of the actual Negative Cost.

Thus, when you hear that a feature film has a $12-15 Million Budget it is probably being physically made for, at the most, $3-5 Million.

Plus a $12-15 Million Feature (Negative Cost $3-5 Million) is one that will possibly be distributed in USA/Canada, by a Major Distributor (Warners, Paramount, Sony, etc) with a release of 2,000-3,000 prints on 2,000-3,000 screens for a minimum of 3-4 weeks, which is a release totaling 6K-12K “playdates”.

DEFINITION: A “Playdate” is one print in one theater for one week. At a minimum it should get a Mini-Major Distributor (Miramax, Lionsgate, Weinstein, etc) to realease it in USA/Canada (aka: North America) with 500-700 prints or DCPs to 500-700 screens for a minimum 2-3 weeks, which is a release totaling 1K-2K “playdates”.

POINT: If you can (A) get a Mini-Major Distributor to give you a theatrical distribution deal for a minimum of 500-700 prints for 2-3 weeks then your movie is going to obtain millions of “eyeballs” (ticket buyers, tv viewers, dvd renters, On-demand streamers, etc) that it (B) kicks in a new world of financing feature films, or a new revenue stream, called PRODUCT PLACEMENT.

WHAT IS PRODUCT PLACEMENT? Simply put it is an advertiser, a company, paying you, either the Producer or Distributor, money to place their product (Car, Computer, Clothes, Candy, etc.) for a 2-3 second visual identification. Product Placement, within the movie industry is not new, it has around for 50-70 years.

Product-Risky   Product-Blues

Frank Capra’s “A WONDERFUL LIFE” (1946) utilized the magazine National Geographics as a sub-plot for George to escape his humdrum life. “AFRICAN QUEEN” (1951) had Humphrey Bogart chugging Gordon’s Gin.

And everyone knows the story of Spielberg’s “ET” and how Reese’s Peanut Pieces was used instead of M&Ms and how beneficial it was to “Reese’s”. The James Bond movies always have the opening car scene (product placement) and the Bond movie “A DIAMOND IS FOREVER” received a big check from De Beers. How about Tom Cruise’s Ray Bans in “RISKY BUSINESS”, or Tom Hanks’s  company, FedEx, that he worked for in “CAST AWAY”… the list goes on-and-on. Product Placement is not new.

However, what is new with respect to Product Placement is how massive (aka: large to humungous revenue stream) it has become in the past 10-years.


For 50-years “man” has controlled the tv remote. And men (I include myself) flick incessantly.

I, as I’m sure my ADD writing attests, have an attention span of 15-20 seconds before my mind wanders.

Whereas my wife, a woman, has an amazing attention span of 1-2 hours and always desires to sit, talk, figure out the situation and come to a logical conclusion.

Men and women are made differently.

Men watch TV (“I bought 120 channels & I’m gonna watch everyone one of them”)

Women watch a Show (“I’m amazed how my wife watches anything on tv all-the-way-through”)

Thus, men flick the tv remote every 15-30 seconds. However, about 10 years ago, thanks to an invention DVR (Digital Video Recorder) and started by a company TIVO a tv viewer doesn’t have to watch a tv show when the network is broadcasting it, for the tv viewer can now hit the RECORD BUTTON, record the show and watch it when they want to watch it.

My wife has finally discovered the DVR button on the remote… and she has literally & figuratively taken the tv remote out of my hand.

Man’s dominance, thanks to DVR, is now officially over.


It started with “Dancing With The Stars”, “American Idol” & “So You Think You Can Dance” and it grew into “LAW & ORDER”, “CSI” even “NANCY GRACE” & “DR PHIL”…. she records them all.

Watches them when she wants to and, most important, ZAPS COMMERCIALS (Zapping is fast-forwarding). My family (aka: Wife & Daughter) doesn’t watch commercials on TV anymore.


Thus, a Trillion Dollar a Year industry called Advertising (aka: Madison Avenue) is in a little bit of chaos trying to discern where to put their Trillion Dollars of clients money, knowing that the “eyeballs” watching tv, have disappeared.

10-20 years ago a 30-second ad on primetime tv, that likely was Zapped, cost $50K-$500k.

QUESTION: Where to put Coca-Cola, Chrysler, Apple, Starbucks, etc. advertising dollars now that TV ads are being ZAPPED?

ANSWER: Movies. When you go to a movie, a cinema, a theater, you sit, you don’t flick, you are a captive audience.

Thus, although Product Placement revenues, are not a new source of ancillary feature film profits or a financing revenues they, in the past decade due to DVR & Zapping, have exploded into a multi-multi-million dollar business for the Feature Film Distributors who can guarantee X-number of Playdates.


20, 30, 40, 50 years ago everyone knew of a story or two, by an advertising client like Reese’s, or BMW, or Ray Bays, or FedEx where their product was used as an integral part of the story and they remitted $1-2 Million for the exclusive rights to have their product as part of the story.

Today, there is no movie financed & distributed by a Major Studio, who can guarantee 1,000-10,000 “playdates”, without 25-95 Logos strategically placed into scenes.

Now, project with each advertiser/sponsor paying a mere $50K to $500K to have their logo visualized for 1-2 seconds and become part of the movie and multiply by 25-95 you start talking $1,000,000-$40,000,000.

Plus, if the logo is used strategically as part of the story as in “Cast Away” & FedEx or BMW, or Audi, or Aston Martin in the next James Bond flick with promotional tie-ins one starts talking an additional $5,000,000-$10,000,000.


Whenever I present the “HOLLYWOOD (2-Day) FILM SCHOOL” in other nations I am interviewed on nationall tv and asked the same questions over-and-over.

QUESTION #1: “You must love movies?”

ANSWER #1: “No. I love my wife. I love my children. I have priorities with love”

Interviewer squirms in his/her seat.

QUESTION #2: Well you must have a favorite movie?

ANSWER #2: Yes, anyone that makes a profit.

The interviewer now giggles, squirms in his/her seat, and asks again… “Surely you must have a favorite movie?” Then I pause and go “OK, I do have a favorite movie”. Interviewer, “Yes, Yes”.


Interviewer giggles and squirms some more and asks…


ANSWER #4: It (“Sex & The City 2”) was nothing but a commercial.

I always chuckle about how everyone in the media treated “Sex & The City 2” as if it was a movie with a beginning, middle and end, plot points and resolutions.

It fooled everyone…. It was nothing but a bloody commercial with likely 50-60 logos in it.


(PART 2: Spending the $3-5 Million… Next week I will do a post specifically geared to spending $3-5 Million to make a movie… the numbers, the real numbers…stay tuned)

The purpose of this post is solely to make you aware of a concept for Funding & Profiting with your feature film assuming you have a guaranteed distribution deal.

Product Placement is a Gold Mine and it is just getting bigger-and-bigger. Especially, as our companies want their products to reach the “eyeballs” in Mainland China.


Here are the best 6-7 sites to read for depth of Product Placement News.

(ONE) www.ProductPlacement.Biz

(TWO) www. Squidoo.com/Product_Placement

(THREE) www.MediaPlanet.net

(FOUR) www.Eclipse-Worldwide.com

(FIVE) www.GameShowPlacements.com

(SIX) www.ProductPlacements.com

(SEVEN) www.VistaGroupUSA.com


Happy Filmmaking

FS-$89 (2) DSC_8143

Dov S-S Simens / Dean / Hollywood Film Institute

If questions… my NO-BULL “Streaming”, “DVD” and “Live” Film Schools are available at www.WebFilmSchool.com.

Happy Filmmaking


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3 comments on “$3,000,000-$5,000,000 FEATURE FILM (Part 1: Produce a Product Placement Movie)”

  1. Matthew says:

    Love these posts. I’m curious about the music aspect – do you usually allocate 2-3% for original music composer alone? Or are licensed tracks included in that calikcstion as well.

  2. Henry Larry says:

    The discussion on product placements evolution into a substantial revenue stream especially in the context of changing TV viewing habits offers valuable perspective for filmmakers navigating the modern landscape.
    Gate Repair in Van Nuys CA

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