A money shot is a moving or stationary visual element of a film, video, television broadcast, or print publication that is disproportionately expensive to produce or is perceived as essential to the overall importance or revenue-generating potential of the work.
Originally, in general, film-making usage, the "money shot" was simply the scene that cost the most money to produce. In general, a money shot (also called a money-making shot) is a provocative, sensational, or memorable sequence in a film, on which the film's commercial performance is perceived to depend. The scene may or may not be a special-effects sequence, but may be counted on to become a selling point for the film. For example, in an action thriller, an expensive special-effects sequence of a dam bursting might be considered the money shot of the film. Many filmmakers read a script and look for the most dramatic or climactic moment—the money shot—in the proposed film. Even though the costs or technical challenges of filming such an impressive scene may be huge, producers and directors will do whatever it takes to get that shot completed. It is because of its box-office importance and expensive set-up, that this climactic scene is often referred to as a money shot.
More broadly, it can be any notably dramatic or emotional footage.