By: Lucy Sosa
Filming a realistic version of the “Miracle on the Hudson” in Sully was no easy or cheap feat for Warner Bros. They had to buy two retired Airbus A320s, place them in an artificial lake, soften the California light by hanging a massive silk drape from a crane, and hire hundreds of skilled special and visual effects workers to bring the plane disaster to life.
Considering the cost of retired planes and an extensive post-production process, it’s no wonder Sully was the most expensive live-action film primarily shot in California last year, according to FilmL.A.’s Annual Feature Film study. To tell the remarkable story of how a US Airways pilot swiftly landed his crippled airliner on the Hudson River, saving all 150 passengers and five crew members on board, Warner Bros. spent $60 million on talent, labor, hotel stays, supplies, and even snacks.
While Captain Sully was hailed a hero by the press, the movie shed light on the National Transportation Safety Board investigation that took a toll on his career and personal life. Studios invest in movies like Sully to tell these important stories and to give audiences the best possible movie going experience. That’s great for us as moviegoers, but it’s even better for the lighting technicians, script editors, dolly grips, and makeup artists who get to wake up and go to work every day.
That’s why FilmL.A.’s study, revealing studio spending is on the rise, is worth celebrating. Based on the 100 top-grossing films at the domestic box office, studios spent $7.5 billion making movies in 2016, up from $7 billion the year before.
But what’s not worth celebrating is how Sully appeared on four of TorrentFreak’s weekly lists of the top 10 most illegally downloaded films. That’s a slap in the face to the people who had to unload not one, but two, giant airplanes off a flatbed trailer and onto a 350-ton rotating gimbal camera. How can millions of people not justify five bucks on the cast and crew’s blood, sweat, and tears? If piracy continues, studios won’t be able to justify spending $60 million on an important story like Sully and that sucks for all of us.
There’s a common misconception that pirating a movie is a victimless crime – but that could not be further from the truth. The people hauling planes off trucks into artificial lakes are victims. The hotels that house the cast and crew are victims. The visual effects artists who make live action movies worth seeing are also victims.
Piracy threatens the livelihoods of millions of people and the future of great films like Sully. With production spending on the rise, the only way to ensure it stays that way is to pay for the films and television shows we love.