Joss Whedon Made More Money With ‘Dr. Horrible’ Than ‘The Avengers,’ Unbelievably

bad horse dr horrible

Okay. Let’s compare two scenarios.

1) You decide to write, direct, and produce a 45-minute web musical. You fund the musical’s production out of your own pocket. It is free to watch online.

2) Marvel hires you to write and direct a summer blockbuster that becomes the third highest grossing film of all time.

Which one should make you more money? As Vulture reports, it’s not the one you think:

Joss Whedon shared an eye-opening fact during Saturday night’s reunion of the “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” team: He’s made more money from his independently financed 2008 Internet musical than he did from writing and directing Marvel’s first blockbuster “Avengers” movie.

I want numbers. Who has numbers? From Forbes:

It’s not clear what Whedon made from Dr. Horrible, but Whedon was likely paid in the very low seven digits for the first Avengers.

Okay, I counted to seven on my fingers and got $1,000,000. Whedon was paid a low million for Avengers and still made more on Dr. Horrible? Where did this money come from? DVD sales and T-shirts?

It gets even weirder. As the AV Club notes, Whedon ran Dr. Horrible like a Kickstarter project: in the red.

While it’s not shocking to hear a studio famous for not wanting to pay people anything didn’t exactly pony up the big bucks, it’s insane that his deal was so chintzy, a $1.5 billion-plus movie netted him less than a homemade musical that couldn’t afford to pay much of its crew until after the fact.

HOW IS THIS EVEN. Seriously. I want to see some spreadsheets here. Whedon shared a few Dr. Horrible numbers with Forbes in 2012:

The initial investment was about $200,000. The budget with everybody actually being paid was about $450,000. With the movie and the soundtrack and everything we’ve been able to do with it, we made over $3 million with it.

Okay. I guess it makes sense. If “we” made over $3 million in 2012, all Whedon would really have to do would be to clear a little over $1 million on his own by 2015. It may just be, as unbelievable as it sounds, “do what you love and the money will follow.”

As will the 1000+ True Fans, one of whom recently became a Certified Genius. As Vulture reports:

Whedon said he was floored after he wrote “the dorkiest fan letter” to “Hamilton” maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda and found out that Miranda was a big “Dr. Horrible” fan.

Maybe we’ll get to see Neil Patrick Harris play King George in Hamilton someday—and maybe, if Joss Whedon is ever short on cash, he can finally produce that Dr. Horrible sequel.

 

This story is part of The Billfold’s DIY Month

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