Skot and I were trading quips on Facebook this morning (as oft we do) and this exchange, about the cost of The Magnificent Seven, occurred.
"Runaway production", you probably know, refers to a movie shot away from Los Angeles. In previous years it was a sound strategy because even though you had to fly a good deal of your staff across the country to, say, North Carolina, the cost of local labor and goods far was much much lower and you could save a bundle. In recent years, non-Hollywood towns have started asking more from productions, because they know they can still get it.
This last weekend I have an experience which illustrates this process surprisingly well.
I needed a new mattress to replace my aging queen size. I had heard a company called Caspar advertising a memory foam mattress and was enchanted by the idea, because I'm fed up with springs, plus you can ship a foam mattress in a box that's an eighth of the size because foam compresses. However, Caspar sells for around 800 bucks. I discarded the idea and put a new mattress aside for a while.
This week though, I started looking at options on Amazon and discovered a memory foam mattress for about $160, comparable to a new spring mattress. I ordered it up and it arrived, in its 5x1x1 foot box, on Friday afternoon. I unboxed it and laid it out on my carpet, letting it expand to its full size overnight, then swapped it out with my old mattress, which I leaned on the bedroom wall.
I swear this is about to go somewhere.
When you buy a mattress at a store, they will deliver it for you and take away your old mattress as a courtesy. Amazon doesn't want your old mattress. So I started looking online for some recycler who would haul it away for free, and learned to my horror that in fact, nobody does. Some will haul it for a fee. Goodwill and the Salvation army won't take them, and they certainly won't pick them up. If there is someone who will pick up a mattress for free in California, I wasn't able to find them. And it's illegal to just leave them by the trash.
I spent 45 minutes surfing around researching this, then I lay down on my new mattress and looked at the old one leaning on the wall and said "oh God, that thing is going to be there for the next four months because I know how I operate." I thought about it again for a few minutes, then gave up. I'll figure it out later, I thought. For now, I'll go downstairs and check the mail.
And as I approached my mailbox - there was a BRAND NEW MATTRESS SET leaning on the wall outside one of my neighbors apartment.
I waited until the delivery guys came out of the place and approached one of them. "I got a queen size upstairs I have to get rid of. You want it?" He said he'd take a look. I let him in, he eyeballed the mattress and nodded, and we carried it down the flight of stairs. Once outside he put down his end and said, "How much?"
"It's free," I explained.
"How much to take it?"
I guess he had realized that I was getting something for nothing. "How much do you want?" I asked. "Ten" he replied.
I thought about it for a split second before I gave him a ten in cash. He walked away with my mattress.
So who won this negotiation? I don't know how much a service charges to pick up a mattress (weird lack of detail on those websites) look at it this way - a mattress removal service dropped out of the sky and landed at my feet, without my having to book a time and wait around for it. I bought a miracle for $10 bucks. And that's peanuts. Or memory foam peanuts.
Point is, whatever that town charged Sony/Columbia, it was probably less their own backlot would have. And that, guerro, is a miracle.