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Shoot the Money

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"Look, we paid for the van, we're gonna film it!"

When a television or movie production has paid a lot of money for an extra-special effect, prop or to get to an exotic location, then they are damn well going to get their money's worth. So we see a lot of that big budget item:

  • If it is an expensive locale, then we see lots of travelogue, scenes of the characters traveling through the iconic scenery. Especially in very scenic locations like Hawaii.
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  • If it is an expensive prop then we'll see a lot of the prop and the plot will feature it heavily. Your only hope is that it isn't a Special Effects Failure.
  • If it is an expensive actor, then we'll see a lot of that actor. You got this guy because you didn't want the Poor Man's Substitute.
  • If it is an expensive set, then expect it to become the base of operations. If not, it might receive some minor redressing to represent other locations.
  • If it is animation then you don't waste any shots, 'cause you don't animate something you aren't going to use.

There isn't necessarily anything wrong with this. Making the most of your budget is what really makes the industry appreciate you, as having a good trailer image works in your favor. It may run into trouble with artistic value, as showing less of a faulty prop may prove Nothing Is Scarier or knowing a character is defined by their Cool Mask and keeping the popular actor hidden behind it.


See also Stock Footage, Scenery Porn, Prop Recycling, Big Budget Beef-Up, Widescreen Shot, Leave the Camera Running.

Please do not confuse with Money-Making Shot. Also this trope has nothing to do with using cash as ammo or pumping stacks of bills full of lead (Mr. Larrity shot a pile of money once, then stabbed it).


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  • While it's toned down in following and preceding works, the Ghost in the Shell Innocence team must have spent a ton of money on the CGI exterior/flyby shots, and they're damn well going to show them to you.
  • Same with Sky Blue.

     Film (Animated)  
  • Notably averted in Kung Fu Panda, in which Jackie Chan's character Monkey got surprisingly few lines, making many people wonder why they had to get Jackie Chan for that role when they could've essentially gone with a cheaper actor.
    • Animated films do this a lot. The actors don't need to do much, just read the lines, so they don't need to be paid much. Live films are incredibly hard work compared to sitting in a warm studio with a microphone, cracking jokes with Jack Black and Angelina Jolie. Plus, Jackie Chan provided technical guidance with the fight scenes - he is the master of kung fu comedy.
  • Pinocchio:
    • You know that opening multiplane camera shot on the morning Pinocchio goes to school? The one that's barely on screen for a full minute? That entire shot, which used a specially constructed horizontal multiplane camera, cost $50,000 to shoot, as much as the budget of a single Disney short cartoon!
    • The panning multiplane crane shot during the "Hi- Diddle-Dee-Dee" number, which lasts barely 33 seconds on screen, cost almost as much money (around $35,000).
  • Literally the entire reason The Thief and the Cobbler exists is so Richard Williams can show off every trick, technique and method of hand-drawn animation he learned from the golden age masters. To Williams, money was no object: if it could be animated, it would, whether or not it was relevant or cost-effective.
  • The remake of The Lion King made a photorealistic recreation of Africa and its animals, and it wastes no time to show it. I mean, wastes a lot of time to properly show it.

     Film (Live-Action)  
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey had a $10.5 million budget, and $6.5 million of it went to special effects—62%. The first thirty minutes of the film is showing off the trained monkeys and the space stations and the moon colonies.
  • Averted again in Alien, where the huge Space Jockey in its "pilot chair" was built by artist H. R. Giger for a lot of money and was used only in one scene. (then again, 30 years later it inspired a film of its own)
  • Next time you watch Armageddon pay attention to the number of, sometimes gratuitous, shots of helicopters. They were getting the most out of those rentals.
  • Avatar surely qualifies too. The otherworldly environments and creatures get a lot of screentime, and many scenes seem there specifically to show how the crew were taking 3D effects to the next level.
  • Back to the Future Part II showcased newly-developed technology that allowed the cast to play past/present/future counterparts of their characters.
  • Equilibrium's interrogation scenes between Preston and Mary, despite simply being two people speaking to each other, were incredibly expensive. Mary required multiple dresses of various shades of pink and each scene required a smaller table than the one preceding it. Director Kurt Wimmer felt that it was absolutely necessary, despite squeezing the film's already tight budget, because the richer colors and the closing distance between the two characters showed that Preston was emotionally opening up and beginning to perceive beauty.
  • Very much averted in the Harry Potter films. They created an animatronic hog's head to mount on the wall of the Hog's Head pub in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It appears on-screen for a few seconds and you'll only notice that it moves if you're looking for it. On Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, four makeup artists spent five hours on a background extra dubbed "tattoo man" and, in the end, he doesn't appear in the final cut. The actors have often noted that the sets have much more detail than what is visible on-screen, something which ultimately paid off for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. And that doesn't even get into all the Classically Trained Extras.
  • Inception takes this trope to a new level, given that it was shot in five different countries. There's quite a lot of Scenery Porn, but it doesn't end there, especially in Paris. We don't just see Paris; we see it fold into itself like a taco!
  • Averted in Jaws. Despite the expense of the animatronic sharks used to film the movie, they were plagued with mechanical difficulties which limited their screen time. Most critics agree that this works to the benefit of the movie creating a more frightening atmosphere and increasing the effect when it does appear.
  • The 1995 film adaptation of the classic British comic character Judge Dredd, starring Sylvester Stallone. Despite one of Dredd's most famous traits being that he has never taken off his helmet or shown his face (at least not when he wasn't disguised, injured or bandaged to the point where you can't actually see his face) in the more than 30-year history of the comic, the producers were paying for a big name star so Stallone went helmetless about 20 minutes into the movie and stayed that way.
  • Also averted in King Kong (1976). A giant animatronic version of Kong was built and cost 1.7 million dollars to make, but because it didn't look convincing enough, it was only seen in a couple of seconds-long shots, and boy, can you tell.
  • The entire The Lord of the Rings trilogy embodies this. The level of detail put into the, well, everything is astonishing, and it shows. Every penny of its $285 million budget is right up on the screen.
    • Minor subversion in one scene, mentioned in the extended edition DVD for Return of the King: Still in Rohan, Éowyn offers a cup to Aragorn, and he drinks from it. Miranda Otto, along with the costume designers, lamented that the dress she wore as Éowyn for that scene was fantastic and intricate, particularly the skirt and sleeves - in a scene shooting the actors from the chest upwards.
    • The trilogy actually has a lot of subversions. For example Bernard Hill noted that Théoden's breastplate had beautiful, intricate stitching and details—on the inside, where only he and wardrobe ever saw it. However, it served to make him feel like a king.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie is a major Big Budget Beef-Up of the infamously low-budget children's TV show Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Just in case the audience doesn't catch the hint that it's a Big Budget Beef-Up, the very first scene of the movie is a lengthy sky-diving sequence. It isn't the slightest bit relevant to the plot—the whole stunt is supposedly a fundraising gig for the Angel Grove Youth Center—but it's an effective way to show off the budget.
  • Na Pali Coast took place in Hawaii, and had lots of beautiful scenery shots... filmed in Costa Rica.
  • North: Dan Aykroyd and Reba McEntire appear as the stereotypical Texan family, and sing the film's only song, a parody of the Bonanza theme song, despite North not being a musical (and despite Bonanza actually being set in Nevada). And it's also possibly Foreshadowing since the movie's All Just a Dream.
  • Pacific Rim built a fully functional Jaeger cockpit, mounted on hydraulics that would allow it to rotate, drop, and tilt to mimic the exterior behavior of the titanic mechs as they moved according to the actors' motions inside. Naturally this set was redressed into all four of the Jaeger cockpit interiors we see, with frequent shots of the actors performing an action before cutting to the CG robots mimicking it.
  • Pulp Fiction: The Jackrabbit Slim's set was extremely elaborate and featured lots of extras in costume as 1950s stars. It was the most expensive set piece in the film, so it's easy to see why the camera does a sweeping tour through the whole establishment as Mia and Vincent find their seats.
  • Sahara (2005): Averted when a plane crash that took up 45 seconds of film time and cost $2 million to film was cut to make room for the Product Placement scenes.note 
  • Lampshaded in Soapdish where a network executive mentions the simulated ocean background for the Soap Within a Show cost the studio over $100,000.
  • The Soviet film version of Solaris, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, used this trope to justify the production team's trip to Japan by a long highway scene in the middle of the movie.
  • Same with Frank Miller's The Spirit. The Octopus is always hidden in shadows in the comics, but when you pay for Samuel L. Jackson to play the role...
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture, before it got cut to a reasonable length. The crew spent lots of cash and elbow grease on the Enterprise and they'll be damned if they can't show for it.
    • Justified somewhat in that the effects seen in the movie were done by John Dykstra and Douglas Trumbull in a huge rush after the special effects firm originally hired failed to produce anything remotely usable after a year's effort. At the last minute someone from Paramount decided that since the studio had spent so much money on the effects, they should be front and center in the movie—cutting a number of character-development scenes in the process.
    • Further justified by the Enterprise sets having originally been built for the Sequel Series project that became the movie after A New Hope came out. Since they would never be used for a weekly TV series, the script was written to take full advantage of them as they were struck after production wrapped and never reused.
  • Star Wars: The iconic opening space battle of A New Hope was actually due to this trope. The ship that was originally the Millennium Falcon was decided to be too close in appearance to a ship from another movie, so they rushed out a new design at the last minute. In the meantime, the original Falcon's model was repurposed as the Tantive IV, Princess Leia's blockade runner. Ironically, the model for the Tantive IV was twice as large and detailed as any other model made for the movie, but only is in the film for around a minute.
  • Starship Troopers: The uniforms and helmets made for the movie would be used again and again in other Science Fiction productions, such as an episode of Series/Firefly.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) is often accused of spending an inordinate amount of screentime with April O'Neil to justify the hefty pricetag of hiring Megan Fox for the role, though her involvement is likely much less costly than the price of the cgi/motion capture necessary for the Turtles themselves.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day, judging from its opening, intended to keep the presence of the T1000 ambiguous for a while (letting the audience think that Robert Patrick's character was another human sent back to stop another T-800). The trailers, of course, ignored that to show off the then-new and awesome morphing effects.
  • Titanic (1997): They made the most expensive film made up to that point, and damned if you don't see every penny of it. Along with travelling shots showcasing the digital ship or its lavish interiors, there's the extended sinking, basically in real time.
  • Disney's pioneering 1982 CGI film TRON featured a relatively tiny amount of actual CGI, amounting to less than five minutes' worth in a feature-length film. However, the extensive use of footage from the famous Light Cycle sequence in television spots and trailers gave the impression that the entire film was computer generated.
  • TRON: Legacy would follow its predecessor, especially since CGI team knew they working on a film that was the sequel to something most of them revered as 3D modelers and designers, so they made every dollar count. This is shown best during, of course, the new Light Cycle sequence.

     Live Action TV  
  • The South American Soap Opera industry loves to do this. It's their way to say We Care and dispel the doubts about the quality of their productions.
    • Brazilian producers do this very often. One of the most emblematic and recent examples was O Clone, where the crew went to Morocco and filmed a lot of scenery and action there, even some scenes supposed to happen later in the story.
    • Venezuelan soap producers are infamous for filming in gorgeous natural exteriors during the first chapters of a story, and then reusing the exterior location shots over and over while the rest of the show films on studio because most of the money was spent on those chapters.
    • When part of the action on Colombian soap Yo soy Betty, la fea moved from dull Bogotá to sunny Cartagena de Indias, there were a lot of scenes showing Betty wander by the beautiful beaches and the pretty buildings of the latter city.
      • The Mexican version La fea más bella didn't miss a single chance to show off when the action shifted from Mexico City to Acapulco and New York.
    • A Brazilian and Venezuelan fad during The '90s and early Nougties: build their own Building of Adventure location, namely a small town (usually only the facades, but still), or a department store. In an infamous case, a small mall set was built, but when the soap tanked and the set became too expensive to maintain, they blew it up on camera to do the double feat of disposing of the set and adding more drama to the plot (incidentally using the explosion to dispose of the most unpopular characters).
  • Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda sure got their money's worth from the "asteroid base" cave set built for their fourth episode, as it appears over and over again for a variety of caves, asteroid bases, underground command centers, and so forth.
  • An episode of Angel had Angel being poisoned by a leech-like parasite that forced him to remain asleep and have crazy nightmares. The director, David Boreanaz himself, said that there were two main props of the leech, one crafted out of a spongy material with some slime on it and another that had full animatronics and cost them $85,000. He resorted to filming as little of the costly prop as possible because he felt it was too goofy looking and the cheaper sponge prop actually worked better. He wouldn't have used it at all if it wasn't for the fact it cost $85,000.
  • The original Battlestar Galactica shot the episode "The Lost Planet of the Gods" on location in Egypt, and used a shot of the pyramids of Giza as an establishing shot for the lost human homeworld of Kobol.
    • The original Battlestar Galactica used to be famous for overusing the Viper launch sequence, as it was very expensive high-tech special effects... at the time. Most of the battle scenes were reused and clipped together to suit the needs for script. It wasn't unusual, for example, to see the same clip of four weapon shots tracking up to a Cylon ship before blowing it up, sometimes flipped left for right to add a little variety. The only reason they didn't flip them upside down and get four clips instead of two is that everyone knows which part of the Cylon ship is the top. The cockpit interiors were carefully matched to the actors called for in the script, so one does see different hands and different shots of joystick manipulation, but the cockpit set was later recycled for the Buck Rogers television show, including the relabeled Vietnam-era OV1-C "Mohawk" recon aircraft joystick.
    • When the show costs over $1 million per episode in 1978, you can't be too afraid of seeing the same shots each episode.
  • The British series The Bill once had an end of season Cliffhanger involving a (no doubt expensive to hire) police helicopter. The helicopter features prominently in the ending, and there's lots of footage of London shown from the helicopter.
  • The Sci-Fi Channel original movie Dead Men Walking did this with a special effect. The admittedly cool-looking bit of zombies excavating a torso loses its shock value when it is seen again and again and again on completely different victims.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The characters in "The Ark in Space" spend an awful long time in the cryonic chamber (even though the useful controls, supplies and computers are elsewhere in other rooms) because the set was extremely beautiful and expensive and one of the most ambitious sets the series had yet executed. All scenes that don't absolutely have to take place somewhere else in the ship take place in it.
    • Robert Holmes commissioned a Sontaran story for Season 12 because the Sontaran costume created for the previous season was so expensive that the producer wanted to reuse it. The result was the Bottle Episode "The Sontaran Experiment". The strange part is that a new, lighter Sontaran head was created for it, defeating the story's original purpose.
    • One of the reasons K-9 was added to the cast was because his prop was too expensive to build solely for the character's planned role as quirky set dressing in a one-shot story. Unfortunately, the prop was badly made and the remote control interfered with the cameras, meaning the prop had to be replaced multiple times, negating the initial point.
    • The production team actually traveled to Paris for "City of Death", the first time a Doctor Who story was shot outside of Britain. Most of the story was set in Paris anyway, but the director made sure to include gratuitous shots of the Doctor and Romana walking around Parisian locations in the first episode. Less effective use was made of Amsterdam in "Arc of Infinity", but in "Planet of Fire" the island of Lanzarote doubled as itself and as an alien planet.
    • The Terileptils in "The Visitation", and the pioneering animatronic masks used to bring them to life, were intended to return. Those plans fell through. One mask did end up being reused in modified form on a delegate from Posikar in "The Trial of a Time Lord".
    • "Time-Flight" is a notorious example. Lavish attention is spent on the Concorde to show off that they paid to get a Concorde.
    • In "Battlefield", producer John Nathan-Turner decided that Stock Footage of a helicopter simply wouldn't do, and what the show really needed to blow its budget on an actual one. So we get long, lingering shots of the helicopter transporting The Brigadier around.
    • In the second episode of the Ninth Doctor's series, we are introduced to the Face of Boe, an enormous disembodied head in a tank, clearly an extremely expensive prop. It takes practically no part in the story other than looking exotic. Fans with some grasp of the economics of television production knew they'd be seeing more of it. And so it proved, as it returned in the following two series, complete with actual importance to the story.
    • Many alien species in the new series will frequently appear multiple times, as a way to justify their very well done special effects and costumes. The Ood have made multiple appearances, and so have the Sontarans, Judoon, and Slitheen (strangely enough, after their first appearance in "Rose", the Autons don't show up again until the end of Season 5.)
  • The sitcom The Facts of Life had a special set in Australia. Much footage of Sydney's Harbour Bridge and Opera House was shown, as well as Uluru.
  • Game of Thrones. "Blackwater", "The Watchers on the Wall", and "Battle of the Bastards", are easily the most expensive episodes of the show. They use fewer locations than usual and discard most of the show's usual Four Lines, All Waiting. The production staff is pulling out all the stops for a truly expensive action sequence and making damn sure they get a whole episode's worth of material out of it.
  • The producers of The Graham Norton Show originally built the Bid Red Chair for a one-off segment as a tribute to Ronnie Corbett but the prop and the associated hydraulics were so expensive that they turned it into a regular segment, which quickly became a trademark, to close each show to justify the cost.
  • A series 6 episode of House featured a video game developer who succumbs to a medical complaint while testing his new virtual reality game, depicted using very expensive-looking CGI. Not only do House's team find an excuse to give us another look by playing the game themselves while supposedly investigating his symptoms but the patient is also obliging enough to develop hallucinations that incorporate similar CGI elements. In addition, whenever any future episodes show characters playing a video game it is always this one. The controls have inexplicably been mapped from the original virtual reality system to standard console controllers while the graphics remain as pre-rendered shots from camera angles that would make gameplay very difficult, but at least it gives the show an excuse to reuse the CGI footage again.
  • Used and lampshaded repeatedly a few years back on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. They had used a giant whale costume with functioning blowhole for one sketch. After that, Conan announced that they would feature the costume in as many sketches as possible in order to justify the price of several thousand dollars, and broke the per-scene cost down after each sketch. This was done on at least 8 separate episodes (Conan often has running gags over the course of a week or two of episodes, of course).
    • Inverted on his last couple of weeks on NBC, where he presented a series of one-off sketches supposedly constructed to be as expensive as possible to the network such as "Purchased fossil of a ground sloth from the Smithsonian spraying an original Picasso with beluga caviar." Generally, these sketches featured obvious fakes or donated loaners. The music for these segments, on the other hand, all had impossibly high royalty payments and was specifically selected to screw with the network since a single clip could end up costing NBC tens of thousands of dollars should it ever be rerun. This is part of the reason why O'Brien's NBC run has been more or less locked away forever.
  • The History Channel must have spent a small fortune on creating the CGI collapse of the Space Needle in Seattle, because they used it over and over again in the original Life After People special.
  • The Vendaface machine on The Muppet Show was meant to be only used once, but executive producer David Lazer suggested that he should be used more often as it was an expensive puppet to build.
  • Power Rangers Turbo premiered with a movie. While in the movie, the Rangers morphed only once, they also got a much more elaborate morph sequence than prior morphs, where first their uniforms appeared (via two transitions, first to adding the belt, then the uniform), and then their helmets assembled themselves into place, with an added close-up for Tommy, the Red Ranger. This translated into the series proper - they paid for the CGI transformations, they're not going to use them only the once, so the morph sequences would be shown in full just about every time - which ate into the episode run times, as, while a movie wouldn't notice this too terribly, on a twenty-two minute show, taking about three minutes for just stock footage is a BIT of a problem. Notably, when four fifths of the cast were swapped out midseason, their replacement morph sequence is SIGNIFICANTLY shorter and less detailed, lasting about twenty seconds, if they all got an individual sequence.
  • Although The Prisoner (1967) seemed to make extensive use of Portmeirion, the location filming had been restricted to just a few weeks early in the production, and later episodes were mostly studio-bound. The directors nonetheless gave the impression that most of the series had been shot on location by carefully rationing the existing footage.
  • A smaller version of Zoe was used for the Sesame Street special "Abby in Wonderland" (Zoe played the Dormouse, called Mousey the Hatter Helper here). However, it was used for a few episodes in season 40 alongside the normal-sized Zoe.
  • The producers of Space: 1999 spent a tonne of cash on the show's modelwork and sets, and made sure that they got their money's worth; shots of the show's Eagles taking off and crashing and blowing up were used over and over again, and alien spaceship popped up in several different guises in different episodes. BRIAN BLESSED even guest starred as two completely different characters in two episodes a season apart.
  • Stargate SG-1's 200th episode special featured a very expensive puppetry (same as from Thunderbirds) setup. The subsequent skit/parody went on for about three times as long as it should have. All for a cheap "wires cut" gag.
    • The Stargate production team built a very expensive medieval set for their Season 9 Ori story arc. It appeared quite regularly through the last 2 seasons of SG-1 and occasionally on Stargate Atlantis. After SG-1 finished, the Atlantis producers were able to use all the sets built, and the medieval set featured in every 2nd episode.
    • And then there is the "Kawoosh". The original effect involved firing a jet engine into a pool and filming it underwater from a lot of angles to be reusable.
  • All the Star Trek series and films have generally been filmed in the greater Los Angeles area. In some cases locations have been used since professional film making began in LA and are still used today.
    • Ever wonder why Kirk and the gang found yet another Earth clone? The production team did manage a lot for making do with so little. Especially for the Nazi episode.
    • A lot of the studio models and CGI models of ships were recycled from one show to the next, sometimes as simple as flipping them upside down or recolored.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise must have spent a lot of money on the "cave" set from season 1, considering how often the crew would have to explore a cave, have a shuttle fall into a cave, explore an ice cave, have a shuttle fall into an ice cave, and so on.
    • Showing a high degree of savvy about the economics of television production, when Gene Roddenberry wrote the pilot for Star Trek: The Next Generation, he deliberately invoked this trope by adding a scene in Engineering, knowing otherwise the costly set would never be built.
    • The Original Series offered up a kind of diffuse example. It was one of the first generation of television shows broadcast in color. As such, color televisions were still a luxury good, and color production equipment sure wasn't free either. Thus all the sets were painted and lit in what is now considered incredibly garish color, to wring maximum spectacle out of the expensive gear. This wasn't the case initially, though, with the first pilot, "The Cage", even though it was filmed in color and gave us the Trope Namer for the Green-Skinned Space Babe; the set changes were made with the second pilot.
    • The main reason the Enterprise didn't send a shuttlecraft down to rescue Sulu's landing party in "The Enemy Within" when the transporter wasn't working properly was simply because NBC refused to budget for one. Even with scripts explicitly calling for shuttles, NBC wouldn't budge. The full-size model and interior set were ultimately funded by model kit maker AMT, who received the license to market Star Trek model kits in exchange (a license that continues with their parent company Ertl to this day, though not exclusively), and the studio got a lot of mileage out of the model shots for "The Galileo Seven". Amusingly, a genuine commercial AMT Enterprise kit made it into the series proper, as the destroyed Constellation in "The Doomsday Machine", as a way to save money.
  • In addition to dedicating an entire episode to their Japanese train vs. car race, Top Gear filmed several Japanese car reviews while they were in the country.
    • A good portion of any cross-country episode (Botswana, Japan, Vietnam) will be spent on shots of either scenery or local culture.
      • The Arctic Special uses this trope.
    • Subverted in Clarkson's review of the BMW X6 in the final episode of Series 14 (which they supposedly had run out of money for), where he briefly visits exotic locations for rather trivial reasons in an episode strapped for cash! This includes visiting Spain to see if the handling is better (it isn't), Switzerland to see if the car can deal with snow (it can't), Hong Kong in search of a metaphor (an expensive skyscraper) and to Australia to see if the glovebox works upside down (it does)! In the same episode, Hammond's review extensively used gratuitous and costly CGI that served no real purpose in showing off his car's features. The end result is that the show James had no budget for his segment and had to cobble together a segment that was mostly him having tea with the woman who invented the modern road sign.
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles took pride in filming each episode on location, all over the world (partly, they did have headquarters in London, Spain, Prague, Morocco and South Africa, but did fly the actors around and filming a lot more than mere establishing shots.) Cue lots and lots of Scenery Porn.

  • You can bet that this is probably how a lot of theatres operate, especially community theatres that operate on a very catch-as-catch-can kind of way. If, for example, a patron of the arts donates a large amount of clothing that's very period-specific, say, The '60s, expect them to find a play set in the Sixties so they can use it.
  • Miss Saigon and its helicopter. The helicopter is the most expensive and most iconic part of the show... and is only on stage for a minute or two.

     Video Games  
  • This trope is why Full Motion Video video games were so prevalent on the Sega CD, the 3DO, and pretty much anything that ran CDs in the early '90s. Switching to CD-drive-based technology was expensive, but the actual gameplay rarely required more than the 8 megabytes that you could fit on a simple cartridge. So what are we going to fill all this extra space with? Why, video files of course! The gimmick lost its appeal quite quickly - actors, props and sets are expensive, good actors, props and sets even more so - and was quickly phased out in favour of pre-rendered cutscenes, which at least didn't take up such a disproportionate chunk of the budget. Games then starting using the space for voice acting, music and 3D assets instead.
  • A related idea is that of mandating the use of a game console's gimmick in games released on it, most infamously motion controls during the seventh generation, which ranged from "obviously limited but still usable" (most Wii games) to bad enough to indirectly kill companies (Lair).
  • If a game has realistic physics (Havok or otherwise), it will have physics puzzles, and consequently it will probably have telekinesis or a gravity weapon. Even if the game is not actually supposed to feature a lot of throwing barrels and cans at enemies.
  • After five years of working on their Hydroengine (an engine where water flows realistically) Dark Energy Digital made Hydrophobia, a game based on a boat, which is flooding.
  • Presumably, the reason why Silver was introduced as a new character in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) was so that Sonic Team could make the most out of the Havok physics engine by creating a character whose sole gimmick is that he can manipulate physics-enabled objects with his mind. The rest of the game is also chock-full of physics objects to show off the engine, but the manner in which they were implemented wasn't quite perfect.
  • Evidently, the reason why every campaign in Command & Conquer: Generals involved a dam blowing up and changing water levels, using the exact same dam model to boot.
  • The Transformation Sequence for each goddess are clearly where the original Hyperdimension Neptunia spent most of it non-existent budget, lasting over thirty seconds and being unskippable every time (also masking some pretty horrendous optimization issues - the new model took about that long to load in, which is why it was unskippable). This became a theme in the series, and even as late as Megadimension Neptunia VII new transformations are usually shown off in unskippable glory during pivotal cutscenes at least once.

     Web Comics  
  • In The B-Movie Comic, one behind-the-scenes sequence explains that they had to cut Snuka's best scene short to make room for their three-minute-long unabridged sequence of the mummy strangling a redshirt: Lee (Snuka's actor) is paid (far) below minimum wage, while the CGI mummy cost money.

     Western Animation  
  • This trope, coupled with availability and scheduling conflicts, is why Rita and Runt stopped appearing after a while in Animaniacs. Not only was Bernadette Peters expensive, each segment required an original song that needed to be written, scored, and recorded, significantly adding pressure to the show's small budget.
  • The New Adventures Of Captain Scarlet: Gerry Anderson Productions had spent a small fortune acquiring the latest and greatest in CGI animation technology and talent, and by 'eck they were going to give it a workout. Scenery Porn, Technology Porn and all the elaborate and detailed visual effects they could devise ensued; episodes like "Swarm" and "Rain of Terror" were rather obviously written around a fancy new trick the techies had come up with, but the results did look pretty damn cool.
  • Played with in The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror VI" segment "Homer³", where Homer enters the third dimension and is subsequently rendered in CGI, where upon he remarks that he "feels like I'm wasting a fortune just standing here".
  • Joked about in Sam & Max: Freelance Police where, in the series finale parodying clip shows, Sam tells Max to stop talking, it costs money.


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