Planet Money: We See Angelina's Bottom Line


Planet Money is one of the best podcasts out there, and in this episode they strike close to our collective heart: the accounting involved with film distribution. This should be required listening for every filmmaker looking for distribution for their film. After hearing this, it should be no surprise that independent filmmakers are routinely screwed out of their share of a film's proceeds by creative accounting similar to what the studios use. It's fascinating, terrifying stuff.

There's this weird thing in the movie business: Almost all movies lose money. Except they don't, really.

On today's Planet Money, Edward Jay Epstein, the author of a recent book called The Hollywood Economist, explains the business of movies.

As a case study, he walks us through the numbers for "Gone In 60 Seconds." (It starred Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage. They stole cars. Don't pretend like you don't remember it.)

The movie grossed $240 million at the box office. And, after you take out all the costs and fees and everything associated with the movie, it lost $212 million.

This is the part of Hollywood accounting that is, essentially, fiction. Disney, which produced the movie, did not lose that money.


Listen to Planet Money: We See Angelina's Bottom Line.