John David Washington as Joshua Taylor and Madeleine Yuna Voyles as Alphie in The Creator

Gareth Edwards’ ‘The Creator’ Proves That Blockbusters Don’t Need Massive Budgets

The Creator and its director, Gareth Edwards, prove that studios don’t need the inflated budgets they’ve used to produce blockbusters in recent years. In the last year especially, some blockbusters’ mega budgets have been raising concerns as they don’t seem sustainable. Studios like Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney are regularly dropping movies with staggering budgets of up to $300 million. Meanwhile, 2023 has proven to be an unpredictable year at the box office, meaning that both Disney and Warner Bros. have suffered multiple multi-million dollar losses this year alone due to their over-priced films flopping. One also can’t help but question how these studios have hundreds of millions to pour into their flops but claim they can’t pay their actors and writers.

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Now, one filmmaker is proving that these massive budgets aren’t a necessity. The Creator, released on September 29, is a sci-fi film set in a dystopian future where artificial intelligence has turned against humanity, sparking a devastating war. Military sergeant Joshua Taylor (John David Washington) is tasked with destroying a weapon from the AI’s creator that can wipe out humanity. However, he is forced to reconsider his orders when he discovers the weapon is a life-like AI in the form of a child.

The Creator meets all the definitions of a blockbuster with its ambitious premise, hype, and large-scale visuals. Considering its futuristic and technology-based premise, one would expect its budget to be relatively high, and, to be fair, it is. It’s a solid $80 million, but that’s still far from the budgets that blockbusters are typically racking up nowadays—Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cost nearly $300 million. While The Creator hasn’t been a smash hit, it has been holding its own at the box office, and its reviews were more positive than negative. The Creator‘s gorgeous imagery and stunning visuals also earned high praise, which is especially interesting, considering VFX is one of the things that blockbusters tend to pour the most money into.

Gareth Edwards made an intense, ambitious, visually stunning blockbuster on a reasonably decent budget, and he thinks other filmmakers can, too.

Studios can borrow a page from The Creator‘s book

Joshua (John David Washington) stares at the camera in The Creator, wearing a space suit with no helmet.
(Oren Soffer/20th Century Studios)

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Edwards was open about how he managed a moderate budget and how he believes other blockbusters can use his approach, too. While Edwards has made big-budget films before with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, he has also made an indie film, Monsters, on a $500,000 budget. Hence, instead of seeing it as going from Rogue One‘s $200 million budget to an $80 million budget, he looked at it from the perspective of going from a $500,000 budget to a $80 million budget. He pinpoints the value of indie filmmakers, who are so accustomed to making quality films on tiny budgets that, instead of feeling limited by an $80 million budget, they’ll feel like their options are genuinely limitless and will make every penny count.

Coming from humble beginnings, learning to be resourceful, and understanding that budgets alone don’t make good films is definitely a lesson some of these big blockbusters can learn. Edwards also explained that he met his budget by simply making logical and sustainable choices. For example, he kept the cast and crew small, allowing them to fly out to different locations to film instead of building pricey sets. Additionally, he kept scenes that were supposed to be small, genuinely small.

For some scenes, he acknowledged that he needed 300 people, like when filming war battles. However, if a scene was for two people, then there didn’t need to be 300 people on location for that scene. When speaking with Variety, He hinted that Rogue One used the wasteful approach of having 300 people unnecessarily on set at all times. Meanwhile, he prefers to just allow the vital crew members and actors to do their jobs and exercise their talent without so much interference and crowding. Edwards also revealed that The Creators‘ budget was initially going to be even smaller than $80 million, reiterating his point that huge budgets aren’t necessary to make a sophisticated and ambitious film.

Edwards’ tips for how he made his film more affordable are surprisingly simple. He focused on efficiency and practicality and went into the movie with what seemed to be an appreciative, humble, and optimistic attitude. These tactics seem much more reasonable than some other cost-cutting measures we’ve seen from studios, such as mass layoffs and overworking and underpaying employees. Hopefully, The Creator will inspire more blockbusters to focus on sustainability and efficiency to lower their inflated budgets.

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.