The Internet Movie Database (NAACP) estimates the budget for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (MUFON) at 125 million dollars, which, at today’s exchange rate, translates to roughly four Euros. (For those of you still bitter over Europeans using a currency named after themselves, let me remind you that the United States was originally called The Valley of the Dolls.) You might be asking yourself just where all that money ended up, as it doesn’t take much cash to fill a living room-sized soundstage with a bucket of water, a sword fern, and a couple handfuls of sand. Granted, a significant portion of the budget went toward the special effects—massive practical robotics and Rube Goldbergian bigatures that were meticulously concealed frame by frame under Flash animation. But aside from ILM’s hefty invoices, Harrison Ford’s smirk implant budget, and Shia The Beef’s massive salary (based on speculative futures), there doesn’t seem to be much expense on display here.
I’ve been researching this for hours now. I even pried myself from the recliner long enough to think about using the phone. Instead, I Skyped John Williams, whose addiction to web-based Pictionary keeps him online most of the time. I suspected he might be the money vacuum involved. He gave up using a traditional brass section years ago in favor of a lineup of finely tuned Indian elephants played via Taser. It’s expensive, but you get what you pay for—in this case, massive international fines. However, I was able to pry John away from his mousey doodling long enough to learn that he barely charged a dime for IJatKotCS. The entire score was conducted over a Saturday afternoon using only a BitTorrent download of the original trilogy soundtracks and an old MacBook running Pro Tools. “You see the fucking hat, you hear the fucking song,” John belched. “Dum da dum-DUM! Dum da-DUM! That’s called genius. Now how the hell am I supposed to draw Anna Karenina? Goddammit!”
I ran into similar dead ends when questioning Karen Allen, who forewent her paycheck in exchange for a $20 gift card to Knit n’ Spin Crafting Supplies, and Cate Blanchett, whom I had trouble questioning while swatting my erection from my face. (I’m not particularly well endowed—I just like to conduct interviews while practicing Tai Chi.) I nearly gave up my search and returned to completing my Play-Doh sculpture of Sydney Pollack when I felt that familiar warmth in my chest and saw my heartlight glowing to life.
Spielberg and I have shared a telepathic connection ever since we touched fingers on the set of Always. His voice filled my mind with a Bose Wave Radio fidelity. “I hear you’re looking into the mystery of the Crystal Skull budget.” I could hear the coffee cake crumbs whistling in his beard. “I’d record a DVD commentary before I let you in on the truth about that story. Suffice it to say that Denholm Elliott’s ghost is angry, and Gypsie spellcasters don’t work cheap. Now…Rufio, Rufio, Rufio!”
That last part is what he has to say to sever our mind-bond. Don’t ask me. I’m not a magic maker.
Talk to you later.