June 19, 2020
Why does Spike Lee not receive bigger budgets?
If you sat and watched Da 5 Bloods last week, you were treated with an inventive film steeped in history and trauma. It tells its story through multiple aspect ratios and timelines. It has a cast of interesting characters. It’s deeply political, explores race and justice issues, all while taking us on a thrilling treasure hunt.
With a reported budget of $35–45 million, you’d think that was standard for Spike Lee, but it’s actually one of the largest budgets he’s dealt with in his 30+ year career.
Lee has delivered Award-worthy films, genre pieces, indie fodder, and some of the greatest movie moments of all time…but he’s yet to be given the kind of money and leeway that someone like Martin Scorsese gets.
Both of them had Netflix films. Scorsese’s budget was north of $160 million. Lee got around $40 million.
Lee had to fight to shoot sections of his movie in 16mm, Scorsese got to de-age 3 septuagenarians.