While in retrospect a pretty good bet, it sounds insane that such a relatively high amount of money would be risked on a project invoking less studio excitement than Tyler Perry's dramatic range. But along with Spielberg already having a reputation as a profitable director, this kind of risk-taking wasn't a big deal back in the day. That same studio mindset threw $15 million at Brazil, a Terry Gilliam film about dystopian air ducts and baby-mask torture. Cut to 10 years after that, and this same guy would get $20 million to deliver Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, a rambling two-hour anti-narrative about two garishly dressed men on all of the drugs in the universe.
This completely out of context frame makes as much sense as any other.
And keep in mind, this wonderful decade clocked blockbusters at about $60-$70 million a pop. Meaning that these untested and super-niche premises were being made for the 2016 equivalent of the new Wonder Woman film. Time warp to 2014, and the same Fear And Loathing director is scraping together $8 million for his latest movie. And it's not just Gilliam -- both David Lynch and John Waters, legendary cult film directors, are also struggling to get their current films properly funded. And if these intensely revered crazies can't cobble together a work of art, imagine what it's like for new filmmakers. Thanks to the ease of digital cameras, the indie market is more saturated than a flooded sponge factory. There are currently 7,000 American film festivals accepting submissions -- all for the best-case scenario of getting lost in the shuffle on Amazon or Netflix.