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Money-Making Shot

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"Keep running, men! This shot is for the trailer!"
Kevin Murphy, Transformers Rifftrax

The term Money-Making Shot refers to any really critical scene in a film (especially a scene that makes the trailer of the film). It is, essentially, the bit you bought your ticket for, so one could say that it's the point at which you get your "money's worth." Some films might have more than one Money-Making Shot.

See also Just Here for Godzilla, where the Money-Making Shot is all the audience comes for; Signature Scene, when a scene becomes this regardless of the creators' intentions; and Watch It for the Meme. Not to be confused with Shoot the Money.


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    Films — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Grand Canyon, the film director played by Steve Martin was upset that his editor didn't keep the violent "money shot" of the bus driver's head being blown apart by a shotgun.
    Davis: Where's the shot?
    Editor: What shot?
    Davis: You took out the shot.
    Editor: Which shot is that?
    Davis: The money shot. The bus driver's head. The brains-on-the-window shot. The viscera-on-the-visor shot.
    Editor: We thought we'd show it to you without...
    Davis: Put it back. Don't show me anything.
    Editor: You don't need it. You're not even giving it a chance.
    Davis: How's the rear-view-mirror gag supposed to work without it? Am I the only one here who respects the writing?!
  • The scene in Independence Day where The White House is destroyed by the alien Death Ray. The producers knew how vital the shot was: It was one of the first special effects shots put into production, so that it would be complete in time to be used in the trailers.
  • Independence Day director Roland Emmerich would later have a more literal case of this trope with Moonfall, as one shot of the Moon coming up from behind the Earth, made by the effects people of previous project Midway (2019), was crucial to the sell the film to investors in Cannes and raise over $100 million.
  • Uses of Bullet Time and the acrobatics freed from "real" physics in The Matrix:
    • Trinity's hovering scorpion kick from the opening scene.
    • Morpheus jumping across the building to show Neo how to jump.
    • Any of the flips (Trinity spinning like a rabbit on a spit; Neo escaping Smith in the train station; Neo and Trinity dodging bullets in the building lobby).
    • The lobby shootout as a whole.
    • Any of the unusual shots (Bullet Time ducking of bullets; Trinity's "Dodge This!" takedown of an agent; the "Guns. Lots of Guns" scene.)
  • Quite unusually, the Money Shot in Armageddon (1998) isn't the destruction of the asteroid... it's the Team Power Walk just before the drillers go into space.
  • Parodied in a video where Joel Schumacher is discussing the Money-Making Shot of Batman & Robin
  • Dr. Strangelove has one of the earliest examples: Slim Pickens riding an atom bomb until it detonated all over the Soviet Union's face.
  • In American Beauty, the viewer is teased with cheerleader Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) in several semi-nude situations where nothing is actually shown. Near the end of the movie Lester opens her shirt to finally reveal her breasts.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has its money shot during the action sequence in Paris, where Duke and Ripcord dodge the missiles the Baroness shoots at them in Bullet Time.
  • Inception played its cards close to the vest when it came to promotional items, but one thing that became analogous to the movie was the shot of Paris folding in on itself like a taco.
  • Crosses oddly with Just Here for Godzilla in many of the Mothra films, where the scenes of caterpillar-Mothra spinning her cocoon are Money Making Shots of a sort...
  • In pornographic films, the term "money shot" often refers to shots that show ejaculation, typically onto an actress's face or breasts (most uses of the term "money shot" are referring to this figuratively).
  • The exploding head scene in Scanners.
  • The (very) long reveal of the shiny new Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. To a lesser extent, the badass Klingon battle at the start of the movie as well.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • In The Avengers (2012)
      • it's the Epic Tracking Shot that pans from one Avenger to another fighting the Chitauri. Joss Whedon says in the commentary that they considered cutting that shot several times, only to conclude that a shot like that is why they're making such a movie in the first place.
      • There's also the shot that does a 360 degree pan around the group as they're surrounded by Chitauri. They aren't doing anything; it's merely for the audience to revel in the fact that, yes, these six characters are together in one movie, and they're about to kick ass together.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron has the arrival of the Hulkbuster, being the first thing in MCU to face and block Hulk's punch.
    • There's also the battle in Sokovia, in the generator room, where all the Avengers and the Maximoff twins are fighting the Ultron drones in a sped up / slowed down rotating shot.
    • Captain America: Civil War has Team Cap and Team Iron Man running at each other to battle. And let's not forget everyone's favorite web head swiping Cap's shield at the end of the second trailer.
    • Doctor Strange (2016) has the sequence of Strange and Mordo being chased through New York by Kaecilius and his Zealots in the Mirror Dimension.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a team shot of the Guardians, Mantis, Nebula and Yondu after landing on the surface beneath Ego's core.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming has Peter lifting concrete pillars off of himself in sheer determination, referencing "If This Be My Destiny..."
    • Thor: Ragnarok has the arena fight with Hulk on Sakaar and Thor fully tapping into his powers on Asgard, complete with Immigrant Song blaring as he rains lightning on his enemies.
    • Black Panther has the shot of T'Challa backflipping from an airborne SUV and landing on the car in front of him. This shot was featured prominently in several promo materials, to put it lightly.
    • Avengers: Infinity War has Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to hurl a moon at the Avengers and the Guardians on Titan, the shot of Black Panther and Captain America sprinting past every tribe in the Battle of Wakanda, Thor arriving in Wakanda with Rocket and Groot, Captain America holding back Thanos' fist and the Snap.
    • Avengers: Endgame has many but the greatest one is undeniably the scene when Captain America stands alone against Thanos' army only for countless portals to appear, bringing in every hero and ally the Avengers have ever made. 22 movies built up to one of the most epic Avengers Assemble scenes put to screen.
  • Pacific Rim: Any extended sequence involving the Jaegers, or the Kaiju for that matter.
  • The end of the Nature Has An Order TV spot for Godzilla (2014) features a clear, if brief, shot of Godzilla roaring up into the sky in broad daylight.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): Shredder's introduction in full armor, fanning out his excessive number of blades. There is also Raphael crashing shell first into a humvee, flipping it over.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Yes, it's an acclaimed love story and an acclaimed piece of lesbian cinema. Yes, it's actually only a very small part of the 3-hour running time of the picture and could be excised without causing undue harm to the storytelling (YMMV in that point). But in the end the extended, supergraphic sex scene between the two leads is what most people remember (and later bought the Blu-rays for).
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope (and by extension the whole franchise) starts with a money-maker: an Imperial Star Destroyer chasing a Rebel ship. George Lucas wanted audiences hooked from the get-go.
    • The Force Awakens: Judging by people's reactions to them, the end of each trailer has one of these.
      • The first teaser had the Millenium Falcon soaring and battling a group of TIE Fighters while the theme song blared.
      • "Chewie, we're home."
      • Finn brandishing his lightsaber as an unmasked Kylo Ren goes in for the strike.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has the shot of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, lined up and ready to take on a threat together for the first time in live action.
    • Wonder Woman blocking Doomsday's eye-blast with her bracers and sending him a shockwave with them in return.
  • Darling Lili of course has the scene where a Dark Reprise of "I'll Give You Three Guesses" happens and it turns into a striptease. At the end of the song Lili has unzipped her corset, and tosses it aside just as the lights go down. Press for the film focused so much on that, people compared it to Ninotchka's tag line being "Garbo Laughs" and suggesting Darling Lili be "Julie Strips". Oh and Lili was played by Julie Andrews.
  • Jurassic Park (1993) has three, the Brachiosaurus reveal, the Tyrannosaurus arriving, and the Gallimimus chase, the last of which was crucial to sell Steven Spielberg on how much of the movie could be done on computers.
  • The Princess Diaries - at the end of Mia's makeover Gretchen and Helga are holding up pre-makeover pictures of her and pull them apart to reveal the new Mia. The makeover is easily the most remembered part of the film.
  • The Wizard of Oz is of course where Dorothy opens her front door to find that she's in Oz, and the film switches from Sepia to Technicolor as she does so.
  • G.I. Jane's is Jordan shaving off her long black hair in an Important Haircut - which Demi Moore did for real on camera.
  • In each of the Final Destination films, it's the set-piece disasters that the protagonists witness in premonitions and then save their friends from. (The first film had a plane crash, the second had a highway pileup, the third had a rollercoaster accident, the fourth had a wreck at a race track, and the fifth had a bridge collapse.) Tony Todd has stated that he thinks that this is why they won't make a sixth movie: these scenes bump up the budget considerably compared to other horror movies, which means narrower profit margins, especially given that these films are very violent and R-rated.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Man of Steel: Superman and General Zod exchanging blows in Metropolis.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman standing together as a team against Doomsday.
    • Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman crossing No Man's Land.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League: The appearances of Darkseid, Flash going back in time to save the world and the League from the Unity's explosion, as well as the titular League standing shoulder to shoulder.
    • Aquaman: Aquaman emerging from a waterfall in his Iconic Outfit with the Trident of Atlan, and him controlling sea life from Karathen's back later one.
    • SHAZAM!: Billy Batson transforming just as he leaps off a building.
    • Wonder Woman 1984: Diana flying, and wearing the golden armor in the climax.
  • Under the Silver Lake: Riley Keough skinny-dipping.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Knuckles catching Sonic mid-spin and saying "Do I look like I need your power?".

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Hitman: Blood Money had a scene in most promotional material that featured 47 in Vegas. All right, so Vegas is there for two levels, but the first is a hotel/casino and the second's a highrise.
  • The trailers for Call of Duty: Black Ops featured a helicopter crashing in a city, the camera riding the wing of an Blackbird spy plane and a close-up of a Soyuz rocket launch, among other things.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Money Shot