Actors and directors might get all the red carpet love, but the Best Picture Oscar statue goes home with a film’s producer—the man or woman who actually runs the show.
As for just what a producer does, the credit is likely the most misunderstood in the business (besides the dolly grip). In a nutshell, producers are the ones who oversee a movie from beginning to end. Before a film is made, producers choose projects, raise money, and hire the director and often oversee casting. During filming, they organize the shoot and make sure the budget is adhered to. And in postproduction a producer oversees the remaining tasks like song selection and editing.
A producer’s role in filmmaking might be nebulous, but the mark of a good one is obvious. To celebrate Hollywood’s moviemakers, The Daily Beast crunched the numbers to find the people behind the scenes who have created our most beloved films. Read our methodology below to see how we came up with our list.
To come up with our list, we started with all of the producers ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Then we measured the quality of these 500+ producers in three ways.
First, we looked at the acclaim that producer has earned, determined by Oscar nominations and wins. Actually taking home a trophy scored producers twice as many points as just being nominated.
Then we looked at each producer’s entire catalog and found domestic box office data from IMDB which we then adjusted for inflation to find the people who create movies we can’t get enough of, even if the Academy snubs them (Hello, Grease).
Finally, we looked at prolificacy, creating a standardized score from the total number of films in each producer’s catalog, to find the hardest working people in the business and weed out producers with only one Oscar win and a single high-grossing film.
We weighted all three categories equally to arrive at a final score for each.
There are some limitations to the data. Until the 1950s, the Best Picture award was given to studios, not specific producers. Box office data for these older films is also difficult to come by. This means some of Hollywood’s best-known and most successful producers like David O. Selznick didn’t make our list.