There’s a belief out there that John Lee Hancock‘s The Founder (Weinstein Co., 12.16) was made for a mere $7 million. (ForbesScott Mendelson reported this figure last May, possibly after checking with the IMDB). That sounds low but maybe. I’ve always heard that ’50s period films (old cars, settings, wardrobe) tend to be pricey, not to mention the services of an established helmer like Hancock plus the hotshit, whambam, marquee-flasharoonie Michael Keaton plus respected, well-known costars Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Patrick Wilson, et. al.

A $7 million budget is good news for a film that, to go by Robert Siegel‘s script, is basically a downish portrait of dog-eat-dog entrepenurial capitalism — a movie that basically says “sometimes it takes a manipulative shithead to orchestrate a big success.”

Good low-budget films get made all the time — Jeff NicholsTake Shelter ($1 million), Garden State ($2.5 million), Sofia Coppola‘s Lost in Translation ($4 milllon), Animal Kingdom ($5 million), Jason Reitman‘s Juno ($7.5 millon), Dope ($700,000), Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike ($7 million). But none of these were “period”. If the $7 million figure is correct everyone must have worked for scale. I’m told that Keaton only got a lousy $250K for Spotlight. The services of Dern, Offerman, Lynch and Wilson aren’t that costly, I gather.

Pic was co-financed last year by The Weinstein Co. (which has domestic distrib rights) and Film Nation. Film Nation handled international sales. The Combine apparently managed the hands-on producing. I double-checked with the Weinstein Co. about the $7 million figure — no response so far.