above-the-line Adjective, e.g.,“Ishtar” (1987) had several above-the-line red flags, including an inexperienced American director, two perfectionist big-name American stars and a Moroccan location unfamiliar to everyone.
Definition: Budgetary costs related to writers, principal actors, stunts, the director and producers.
History: Dates back to the Depression when studios were forced to seek outside financing. A bold line on a budget’s executive summary separated costs of the creative team from those of the technical crew and extras.
Investors then as now were keenly aware that the cost of a project's creative team doesn't stop with the creative team itself, but includes its influence on the costs for technicians, equipment, locations, shooting schedules, etc. Above the line costs ideally reflect the projected box office value of the creative team minus the projected costs of its creativity and profit sought. Which makes above-the-line budgets a prime topic for executive producers, investors, bonding companies and other money power players.
Related Terms: Good movies make money, production value script doctor Ulmer Scale
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