Air budget: How much did Ben Affleck’s movie cost to make?

air ben affleckAmazon Studios

Air, Ben Affleck’s new biographical sports drama about Nike’s business deal with Michael Jordan, made a slam dunk in its opening weekend – but what about the movie’s budget? How much did it cost to make and what did Amazon Studios pay for the project?

MJ remains to be the highest paid athlete of all time, not least thanks to his Air Jordan shoe brand, which changed the game in sports and fashion while earning the pro basketball player a reported $1.3 billion over the decades.

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No one knew what a success the deal would turn out to be – at the time, it was a huge gamble, which is exactly what this movie is about. Per the official synopsis from Amazon Studios: “Air reveals the unbelievable game-changing partnership between a then rookie Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division which revolutionized the world of sports and contemporary culture with the Air Jordan brand.”

As well as directing, Affleck takes the role of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, while Damian Delano Young takes on Michael Jordan, Viola Davis depicts MJ’s mom Deloris Jordan, Matt Damon stars as the man who made the deal happen, Sonny Vaccaro, and Jason Bateman portrays Nike marketing exec Rob Strasser. With an all-star cast and a plot focusing on one of the most lucrative deals in sports history, you might be wondering whether Air has a budget to match.

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Air budget: How much did the movie cost to make?

Although Amazon Studios is yet to release an official figure, Air is estimated to have a budget of between $70 million and $90 million.

These figures were put forward by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety respectively, although the former points out that this “doesn’t include marketing or the overall price Amazon paid for the high-profile project, which was originally set to go straight to Prime.”

There was said to be some tension behind Amazon Studios’ big buyouts of late, one of which was Air, which the streamer paid an estimated $160 million for. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, an executive at a competitor platform described the bid as “crazy,” saying: “She [Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios] just bought it off a pitch, went in, and bought it for $160 million.”

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Industry sources told the outlet that the movie “cost far less to produce,” while the exec added: “Matt [Damon] made more money on [Air] than any other movie but Bourne. She just took it off the table.”

Unlike other big-budget movies, Air doesn’t call for sophisticated CGI, meaning much of the costs are believed to be in the all-star cast  There are a number of other factors too, including music licensing and filming in Los Angeles, which is at the more expensive end of locations to shoot. 

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Even so, the numbers being thrown around are surprising – which begs the question: is Air set to make a profit? Time will tell, but the movie was off to a great start after Amazon made the decision to bring it to theaters before making it available to stream. After dropping last Wednesday, April 5, Air made $20.2 million at the box office in its opening weekend.

Air is out in theaters now, and will be available to stream later this year. You can check out our other Air coverage below:

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Air review | Who plays Michael Jordan? | How to watch Air | Is Air based on a true story?

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