No, Pearl Did Not Cost a Mere $1 Million, Executive Producer Peter Phok Says
Mia Goth in Pearl. Photo credit: A24

Type “Pearl budget” into Google and the search engine will confidently post the unsourced figure “1 million USD” for the acclaimed Ti West horror film starring Mia Goth. MovieWeb has cited that number too, as have Inverse and even Forbes, which is supposed to be, you know, good with money. But no! Peter Phok, who produced Pearl and X, the first film in a planned trilogy, says the $1 million figure is definitely wrong.

“I don’t think that’s true at all, no,” Phok says at the top of our new interview about Pearl, X, and his many other film credits. He takes us through his long collaboration with Ti West – including watching movies inow  the director’s basement at his parents’ house in Delaware. You can watch the full interview above.

Peter Phok, executive producer of Pearl and X

Peter Phok, executive producer of Pearl and X.

So how much did Pearl cost? Phok isn’t getting into specifics on that. But the film is a model of scrappy, efficient moviemaking — and Phok does get into great detail about how the team pulled it off. He oversaw post production on Pearl from Los Angeles while the cast and crew shot in New Zealand, and was was able to do some of the post work while the cameras rolled because of a fluid workflow that took advantage of time zone differences. He also talks about how Pearl and X achieved very different looks with the same camera, the Sony VENICE.

If you haven’t noticed, Peter Phok is having an amazing year, producing two back-to-back, critically acclaimed films in A24’s series even as he preps MaXXXine, the planned third film in the trilogy, featuring Goth as the younger of her two X characters as she journeys to Hollywood in search of VHS stardom in 1985. Like X and Pearl, Phok explains, MaXXXine will be a love letter to the cinematic trends of its era. We try to get a few hints about its influences — at one point using the word “Cronenberg-y” — and he lets us know if we’re on the right track.

“I’m picturing the video store with all the VHS box covers,” he says. “Movies were coming left and right, and it’s a new era of filmmaking.”

Also Read: Ti West Almost Shot Pearl in Black and White — Then Did the Opposite

Phok also talks about his cinematic white whale.

“Go to space. That’s what I want to do,” he says. “I have a deep love for science fiction, science fiction and horror, and I would hold Alien as one of my favorite movies. Ti did write a script that was set in space. Maybe we get to go there someday.”

West spoke publicly about a space story in 2012 — he told The Playlist in 2012 that he was planning a film called The Side Effect about pharmaceutical testing in space, but that he couldn’t rush into it because of the need for a bigger budget.

Phok said budgetary concerns ultimately sidelined the project.

“I think at the time it was certainly a budget thing because it costs quite a bit of money to build a spaceship,” he explained. He also noted that West is “so fast” and tends to follow the momentum of a project — but didn’t rule out a return to the space film. “It didn’t go and he just kind of moved on to the next thing. Every now and then we talk about it: ‘Oh, would we ever go back there?’ And, you know. Maybe.”

Pearl, directed by Ti West and executive produced by Peter Phok, is now in theaters.

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