Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » March 2005 » We strive to be accurate [updated, and reposted to bring it to the top]

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03/01/2005: We strive to be accurate [updated, and reposted to bring it to the top]

Apropos of the weekly trivia. Specifically, question 2: If you take the ratio of box office gross to cost of production as your measure, what is the most successful film of all time? As you know, the answer I give is the hardcore porno classic, Deep Throat, while Brock had guessed The Blair Witch Project. As I remembered how low the budget for The Blair Witch Project was, and how many thousands of buckets full of cash it had made, I felt compelled to do some (very cursory, admittedly) checking of the numbers. I'm relieved; I was correct (inasmuch as I know).

According to the Internet Movie Database, The Blair Witch Project had a production budget of about $22,000, and grossed $240.5 million; if you do the math you see that means that for every $1 the filmmakers spent making The Blair Witch Project, the film earned $10,932 (rounding up to the nearest dollar). For what it's worth, last I looked the folks at The Guinness Book of World Records gave Blair Witch the nod as "Top Budget:Box Office Ratio" for a mainstream film.

Further, the IMDB tells us that Deep Throat cost about $22,000 to make, and has reportedly grossed $600 million as of 2002. Obviously, it made a lot more per production dollar than Blair Witch, but I feel compelled to do the math: for every $1 sunk into the production of Deep Throat, the film earned $27,273 (rounded up to the nearest dollar).

UPDATE: Well, since we're striving to be accurate.... a first time commenter (at least I don't recognize the name) takes issue with this, stating:

I've seen that $600M figure for Deep Throat before, but I just can't imagine it is accurate...That would mean that over it's lifetime, Deep Throat has made more than Star Wars, a possibility that I cannot fathom...
A quick Google search shows that he's channeling LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, whose argument against the $600 million figure can be summed up pretty much as: "Deep Throat gross more than Star Wars? No way! NBC Universal just made up the $600 million figure to hype the recently released Inside Deep Throat, which (by happy coincidence?) they happen to be distributing." In the absence of really hard evidence one way or the other, that sounds like a reasonable position to take. For the long form argument (which is more convincing) you can follow the link to Hiltzik's column (register or use BugMeNot).

Len on 03.01.05 @ 12:53 PM CST

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