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MONEY FOR NOTHING

By the numbers: The money spent attempting to bring Matt Damon back from far-flung places

This question originally appeared on Quora: How much money has been spent attempting to bring Matt Damon back from distant places? Answer by Kynan Eng, brain-related research & commercialization at universities and startups.

This question can be answered in terms of movie budgets, or estimated fictional costs where Matt Damon has been sent on extended “business trips.” See detailed estimates below.

Movie budgets
Courage Under Fire: $46m
Saving Private Ryan: $70m
Titan A.E.: $75m
Syriana: $50m
Green Zone: $100m
Elysium: $115m
Interstellar: $165m
The Martian: $108m
TOTAL: $729m

Fictional costs
My estimates, costs are in 2015 currency:
Courage Under Fire (Gulf War 1 helicopter rescue): $300k
Saving Private Ryan (WW2 Europe search party): $100k
Titan A.E. (Earth evacuation spaceship): $200B
Syriana (Middle East private security return flight): $50k
Green Zone (US Army transport from Middle East): $50k
Elysium (Space station security deployment and damages): $100m
Interstellar (Interstellar spaceship): $500B
The Martian (Mars mission): $200B
TOTAL: $900B plus change

Notes

  • Movie marketing costs are not included
  • Only movies where Matt Damon acted are included
  • Making the Matt Damon movies has cost about 0.1% of the “real” cost to actually send him on all of these business trips
  • His movie gross takings so far are about $2.7B, which is about 40% of the cheapest proposed trip to Mars, as proposed by the Mars One team.

Send me corrections if you know of actual costs mentioned in the movies, or if you know of other movies where he had to endure significantly dangerous travel.


Edits:

  • I think Ocean’s Eleven doesn’t count, as Matt Damon is not being explicitly sent somewhere even though he does travel to take up the job.
  • I think Courage Under Fire does count as a Matt Damon rescue, even though it’s not the main topic of the film.
  • Does the Bourne series count? No, because Matt Damon does lots of travel at his own expense (he might have lots of frequent flyer points under different identities). Or maybe it’s yes, because plenty of money is spent trying to “bring him back,” but the people looking for him don’t seem to be very concerned about his safety.
  • Does Team America: World Police count? I’m not sure. It includes a parody of Matt Damon as “himself” (at least a puppet version). He is sent to North Korea on a business trip of sorts.
  • Jamie Folsom has pointed out that the ratio of fictional/real costs indicated above is 1234.5679. You couldn’t make it up. (Actually the fictional costs were rounded off to $900B so the ratio is slightly different, but let’s not let details get in the way.)

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