Why Do Movies Have So Many Producers?

Movie producers are the ones who traditionally find the project, gather funding, and hire the key talent.

Why Do Movies Have So Many Producers?
Jordan Strauss / AP

Actors act and directors direct, but what do producers do? That’s one way to jokingly describe what a producer does — they’re the ones who traditionally find the project, gather funding, hire the key talent such as directors and main actors and oversee the production. Producers essentially run the show, and that’s why they’re the ones who get to accept the Oscar for best picture. 

But even that doesn’t cover what it means to be a producer. 

Johnny Lin is a filmmaker and producer and Bryan Sullivan is a partner at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae.

"One producer might have the rights to a book. The other producer may have the funds," said Lin.

"There’s producers who are heavily involved in setting the tone for the movie. I’ve even gotten executive producer credit on some films, because I made introductions for a friend that’s a filmmaker and a friend that has money and they financed it, and so they gave me an executive producer credit," Sullivan said. 

Over the past three decades, the number of producer credits in films has skyrocketed. 

In 1992, the Academy Award nominees for best picture credited an average of 5.8 producers per film. Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast" had the most of the year with 10. 

This year, the nominees' average number of producer credits was 12.3 — one higher than last year — and the indie film "Triangle of Sadness" had the most with 31. 

"One of the reasons is there’s a lot more collaboration that goes on," Sullivan said.  

"The trend started in the 90s," Lin said.  

'Everything Everywhere All At Once' tops Oscar nominations with 11
'Everything Everywhere All At Once' tops Oscar nominations with 11

'Everything Everywhere All At Once' tops Oscar nominations with 11

Jimmy Kimmel will host the 95th Academy Awards on March 12, one that will surely be seen as a return to the site of the slap.


The 90s saw the rise of indie films — projects produced outside of the major Hollywood studios.  

That meant that more types of producers were needed to fundraise and collaborate on the development of a film, and the industry saw the rise of associate, executive and co-producers.  

Those titles aren’t as powerful as the main producers — who still run the entire production and in many recent projects, executive producer credits are sold to help finance films. 

So, how do you know which producers are the ones actually running the show? It’s whoever gets the "produced by" or "(p.g.a)" titles.  

Those credits are known as the sc, which were introduced in 2013 by the Producers Guild of America with a strict "Code of Credits" to distinguish the main producers of a film. 

"The Producers Guild is very protective of the "produced by" credit. And that is really reserved for people that are boots on the ground, managing the production," Sullivan said. 

The folks with the "Producers Marks" are those that get to be nominated for awards like the Oscar for best picture.  

This year’s most nominated film "Everything Everywhere All At Once" credits 15 producers, but if it wins the Oscar for best picture, only three with the "Producers Mark" get to go home with the trophy.  

In terms of how much producers make, it again varies by their credits, contracts and the commercial success of the movie itself. Hollywood’s top paid producers are two names you definitely recognize: George Lucas, with a net worth of $7.3 billion and Steven Spielberg with $3.7 billion.