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Shazam! director breaks down why it can cost millions to make a real super-suit

By Josh Weiss
Shazam Zachary Levi Jack Dylan Grazer

Earlier this week, reports began to surface about how Zachary Levi's lightning bolted costume for Shazam! cost upwards of $1 million, and that 10 were made for the upcoming DCEU superhero film.

Taking to Reddit and Twitter, director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) decided to clarify what that exactly means. While he doesn't know the exact price for each suit exactly (but admitted that $1 million price tag doesn't sound out of line), he talked about how it wasn't a matter of building 10 separate costumes for Levi. Rather, it was a matter of trial and error, creating a number of million-dollar designs to get the look just right.

"The thing is that it’s not the price for one suit," Sandberg explained on Reddit. "In developing a suit like this you basically have to build it several times over to get things right. Like there were many different bolts made. Ones with different bolt shapes, ones with different ways of lighting up, etc. There were different versions of the fabric made in different shades, different patterns, and so on and different version had to be camera tested."

Once the final design is locked in, you still need to sink money into costumes that can withstand labor-intensive stunts as well as "upgrades" if certain things are breaking down or restricting the actor's movements.

"It’s not like it’s one million dollars in material, or that making one of these would cost that much. It’s the whole process and making multiple copies and versions," the filmmaker added.

As you can see, Sandberg elaborated on his Reddit post via Twitter, explaining that a cosplayer doesn't need to spend millions of dollars on a costume because they're already working off of a final design ordained by the studio. Moreover, a cosplayer, at the end of day, is working with just one costume to walk around in, and doesn't need multiple for different uses — like fighting a bunch of bad guys day-in and day-out.

"It’s kind of like with cameras. A cheap camera can get you a pretty professional image but only professional cameras will withstand the abuse and workflow of a movie set," Sandberg wrote.

Co-starring Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, and Mark Strong, Shazam! opens in theaters everywhere Friday, April 5.