To green-light is to give permission or a go ahead to move forward with a project.[1] The term is a reference to the green traffic signal, indicating "go ahead". In the context of the film and television industries, to green-light something is to formally approve its production finance and to commit to this financing, thereby allowing the project to move forward from the development phase to pre-production and principal photography.

The power to green-light a project is generally reserved to those in a project or financial management role within an organization. The process of taking a project from pitch to green light formed the basis of a successful reality TV show titled Project Greenlight.[2]

At the Big Five major film studios in the United States and the mini-majors, green-light power is generally exercised by committees of the studios' high-level executives.[3] However, the studio president, chairman, or chief executive is usually the person who makes the final judgment call.[3] For the largest film budgets involving several hundred million U.S. dollars, the chief executive officer or chief operating officer of the studio's parent conglomerate may hold final green-light authority.[3]

The film Shot Caller (2017) portrays the use of the term in another context. In prison and gang culture, to "greenlight" someone is to put a "hit" on their life.[4]


  1. "Green light (dictionary definition)". Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  2. "Project Greenlight". HBO. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  3. Lang, Brent; Lucas Shaw (19 November 2013). "Who Has Greenlight Power in Hollywood? A Studio-by-Studio Guide". The Wrap. The Wrap News Inc. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  4. "Shot Caller – A very authentic picture of what prison ..." October 10, 2017.

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