When it comes to Hollywood movies, the current reigning philosophy seems to be that you have to spend big money to generate huge box office revenues. In the last year, this trend has formed the financial backbone of the industry more than ever before, with 27 of the hundred most expensive films ever created completing production in the past two years. In 2014 alone, twelve of the hundred most expensive films ever were released. Four of those fell within the top 30 range of most expensive films in movie history.
In addition to the huge salaries earned by actors and directors considered to be top box office draws, expensive movies typically invest in bringing the impossible to our screens. And giant robots, monsters leveling cities, biblical plagues and flying through wormholes don’t come cheap. They require considerable special effects wizardry driven by the latest and priciest hardware and software.
The movies on this list of most expensive films of 2014 all took advantage of the latest technology – to differing degrees of success – in the pursuit of drawing audiences into amazing worlds and stories that entertain.
15. Exodus: Gods and Kings – $140,000,000
Released just before the Christmas season, Exodus: Gods and Kings is another retelling of the story of Moses, who leads the fight against the Egyptian empire in a defiant stand against Pharaoh Ramses.
The film stars Christian Bale as Moses and Aaron Paul, of Breaking Bad fame, as Joshua. In addition to hefty sums paid to the celebrity actors, much of the budget went to the special effects involved in epic-scale scenes like recreating the plagues of Egypt.
14. Mr. Peabody & Sherman – $145,000,000
Mr. Peabody & Sherman follows the adventures of two of the characters first created in the 1960s for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. This adventure features the pair traveling through time in the WABAC machine in order to impress Sherman’s friend Penny.
Madcap antics ensue, as the duo rips the fabric of time, potentially changing the course of the history of the earth. Voice talent for the animated feature includes Stephen Colbert, Allison Janney, Stanley Tucci and Patrick Warburton.
13. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $145,000,000
This animated summer blockbuster features an incredible cast, including Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou, Kristen Wiig, Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill and America Ferrera. This sequel reunited Toothless and Hiccup five years after the events of the first movie, that saw the duo forge an understanding between dragons and vikings. This time, they stumble across a mysterious ice cave with hundreds of newly-discovered dragons that threaten the hard-earned peace.
12. Godzilla – $160,000,000
Godzilla’s back and this time it’s in digital 3D. This remake of the classic Japanese monster flick featured a hefty budget, much of which went to the creation of mind-blowing special effects that made the original Godzilla look like grade schoolers playing with muddy toys.
This version of Godzilla was rewarded with more than $500 million in international and domestic box office revenue, collecting a tidy profit from the investment.
11. Interstellar – $165,000,000
Interstellar is a science fiction epic spanning planets and years, in a race to find a planet suitable for repopulating humankind.
Christopher Nolan‘s latest film is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, particularly during its beautifully-shot space sequences. The movie boasted superb performances from Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow and Matthew McConaughey. Interstellar made $185,136,958 domestically and $477,400,000 internationally at the box office.
10. Big Hero 6 – $165,000,000
A well-regarded Disney hit, Big Hero 6 is based on the studio’s recently-acquired Marvel catalog of characters and stories, the first of their new portfolio to show up as a part of a Disney animated film.
Big Hero 6 broke boundaries in animation. New animation technology, called ‘Hyperion’, was developed in order to facilitate the overarching visual style of this film. Big Hero 6 takes place in the fictional San Fransokyo and tells the story of Hiro Hamada, a robotics genius who uses his skills to create a group of heroes.
9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $170,000,000
All hail Caesar, the genetically-enhanced leader of the band of brilliant apes that have evolved to become a genuine threat to humanity.
This sequel follows the struggles of human survivors against the Caesar-led hordes, resulting in a potential return to all-out war between the two species. One of the standout performers is Andy Serkis, whose motion-capture Caesar imbues a creeping humanity into the alpha ape’s CG animations.
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $170,000,000
Taking place after the events depicted in The Avengers, the story of Captain America: The Winter Soldier follows the titular hero as he makes an effort to get used to modern society in Washington, D.C.
Starring Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, the two team up against one of the newest threats to American life, specifically the Winter Soldier. This Marvel hit took in over $700 million in worldwide box office receipts.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy – $170,000,000
Similar to other Marvel-based box office hits, Guardians of the Galaxies has a gigantic budget that allowed filmmakers to recreate unlikely scenes. Those included a raccoon with the voice of Bradley Cooper fighting alongside a powerful tree that walks, talks and morphs into a protective shell. The movie was one of the undisputed successes of 2014, earning the highest domestic gross of the year while delighting critics and audiences alike; most agreed the enormous budget was well worth the payoff.
6. Edge of Tomorrow – $178,000,000
Another science fiction entry in the most expensive films of 2014, but a much more modest success than the previous entry on this list, Edge of Tomorrow starred Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in an innovative tale that takes a page from Groundhog Day.
Cruise plays the appropriately named Bill Cage, a military officer that’s never seen combat and is instead known for his celebrity. Stripped of rank and privilege and sent on a suicide mission, Cage inadvertently kills a powerful Alpha Mimic and becomes trapped in a time loop that returns him to the same day every time he dies.
5. Maleficent – $180,000,000
Starring Angelina Jolie, Maleficent is about a powerful witch who places a curse on Aurora, the King’s newborn daughter. It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the point of the villain, one which didn’t receive a particularly warm reception from critics.
After delays in production and some behind-the-scenes issues, the movie was met with apathy from critics and didn’t gross nearly as much as anticipated for such a big-budget offering; while it was the 5th most-expensive movie of the year, it was only the 7th highest grossing internationally.
4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $200,000,000
The fifth Spider-Man film since 2002 and the sequel to the reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker instead of Tobey Maguire, retelling the adventures of the arachnid-human hybrid superhero.
This reboot sequel barely made its money back on domestic box office revenue, but did well internationally with a total of more than $700 million in worldwide box office earnings.
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $200,000,000
Tied with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the most expensive Marvel movie production of 2014, X-Men: Days of Future Past combines present-day X-Men with younger versions of themselves in an attempt to prevent changes to a significant historical event that would destroy the future.
2. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $210,000,000
One of the most expensive movies on this list is also one of the critics’ most despised films, which hasn’t prevented audiences internationally from continually flocking to Transformers features.
This addition to the franchise follows the battle of humans alongside with autobots to prevent a dangerous new force from taking over the Earth. The movie made over a billion dollars in worldwide box office revenue, justifying the funds invested in the movie.
1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – $250,000,000
The final installation of the Hobbit trilogy was the most expensive movie to create in 2014 and one of the top fifteen most expensive of all time. This conclusion to J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel features an epic final battle against the orcish army. The total budget to film The Hobbit, a short novel broken into three films, was more than three-quarters of a billion dollars.