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15 Of The Most Expensive Films Ever Made (And 15 That Cost Nothing To Make)

Cameron creatively invented a new language that over 100 people had to learn, which added even more to the production costs.

Nowadays, the movie industry has completely changed; with technology advancements, it makes way for so many different types of storylines. Some claim that television is now their preference as the TV shows have impeccable storylines and great cinematography, while movies are more concerned about the pocketed cash than the story.

However, the dilemma here is that Hollywood has a knack for throwing huge sums of money at movies, and although sometimes it pays off, other times, it doesn't. Some Hollywood directors and producers believe in grand fiscal returns, which leads them to dishing out all that dough in hopes it will pay off. Why? With more and more social media, people have a shorter attention span and get bored easily, so they believe flashing people with outrageous action and stunts, which is what costs so much money, will keep them entertained and urge them to see the movie. On the other end of the spectrum, are movies that barely cost anything to make but that proved to be completely successful. Either way, it comes down to overall quality. And so, we are here to break down the most expensive movies ever made and the cheapest.

30 Most expensive: Titanic

via HelloGiggles

Yes, there was space for Jack on the piece of floating wood with Rose, but since the Titanic had to sink, it is one of the most expensive films made. Sadly, the ship that sank cost the production team between $120 to $150 million, and this was in 1997. Though the special effects back then were not the same as what is available now, the action shots, with the ship sinking and objects flying all over, was very convincing. However, with so much dough spent, $200 million USD to be exact, they had to make sure they got the shot right in one try, hopefully.

29 most expensive: King Kong

via Juicy Reviews

Peter Jackson, known for extravagant film budgets, took the classic '30s film and made a monster production of it. Jackson had a $150 million budget to convince us of the monster-size King Kong, however, while the film's special effects were lavish and out of this world, it took $100 million more to make it happen. Universal expected a huge buzz for the film, but that failed to generate, and the production pocketed way less than expected. Luckily, the special effects really sold the film and it grossed $550 million.

28 least expensive: Slumdog Millionaire

via IMDb

We are sure you did not forget the sensational Indian film that had everyone singing and dancing, but did you know this film that generated all kinds of buzz was relatively cheap to make? A movie that left viewers smiling upon exit at the cinema, cost British director Danny Boyle $15 million to make. Based on the story of a resident who grew up in the slums, that then won the jackpot, it went on to be nominated for Academy Awards and, Boyle found his pot of gold in the $377.9 million the film made.

27 least expensive: The Blair Witch Project

via Found Footage Critic

Seeing a low-budget film make an insane amount of money, whether you liked the film or not, is pretty awesome. In 1999, The Blair Witch Project was made with a relatively-low budget of $35,000, and it started the "found footage" concept that is crucially popular now among the horror genre. Buzz quickly spread about how horrifying this movie was, and though the directing was amateur, it grossed $248.3 million. We assume that is why horror movies are now trying to follow this cinematography technique.

26 most expensive: Avatar

via Pinterest

Who could ever forget the mystical and magical Avatar? Director James Cameron certainly did not after grossing $2.78 billion worldwide. One of the highest-grossing filmmakers of all time, it is not surprising that he broke many barriers with Avatar and made a movie with CGI effects that had not been seen before, making this film medium a revolution. On top of that, Cameron creatively invented a new language that over 100 people had to learn, which added even more to the production costs. With a budget of $237 million and pulling in $2.79 billion, we're just as anxious as Cameron for a sequel.

25 most expensive: Spider-Man 2

via Sony Pictures Museum

Most of us, as children, got excited when we saw the incredible Jurassic Park dinosaurs, but the hyperventilation was real when we saw the extremely real-looking Spider-Man in the sequel. The film, that focused primarily on Peter Parker's life, with crucial special effects, had a big year in 2004 when it was released. How? It became the third-highest grossing film of that year, and the film's recognition is still on top. Spider-Man enthusiasts would agree that Spider-Man 2 deserves to hold the title of highest-rated film of the franchise.

24 least expensive: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

via USA Today

There are some flicks that cost nothing to make but had filmmakers floating in cash after their release, like the rom-com My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was not only those of Greek background that flocked over to see the hilarious film filled with Greek sayings, innuendos and laughs, but audiences worldwide. With a budget of $5 million, this independent film definitely had the filmmakers saying "opa" when they surprisingly brought in $368 million.

23 least expensive: Mad Max

via Time

When Mel Gibson was considered to be a nobody in Hollywood, he starred in a movie called Mad Max, and luckily for Gibson, the film generated whispers worldwide. As an unknown actor, he must have expected the low-cost film to pocket little, but it was quite the contrary. The Australian film had a budget of $200,000 but grossed over $99 million ― that is huge for a post-apocalyptic film that was cheaply made. However, it is thanks to the other parts of the world and not America that it generated all that cash flow.

22 most expensive: Spectre

vai mirror.co.uk

There is a lot one can do with $245 million, but that is what it took to shake up the spectacular and long-standing James Bond. To make sure viewers would still be enticed by 007 and go to the movies to share a thrill, the filmmakers needed to be more elaborate with their effects and set pieces, which is why they were granted such a ginormous budget. Having done so, producers needed to pocket back $650 million after the film's release to break even.

21 most expensive: Waterworld

via YouTube

A little throwback to 1995, the film Waterworld needed $276 million to get the deed done, but it ultimately was a fail and sunk deep in the water. Starring Kevin Costner, who was at the time one of the world's hottest A-listers, the film was aiming to be the top post-apocalyptic/sci-fi action film but failed miserably in terms of entertainment. Luckily for Costner, he did not suffer from the aftermath. Though the film was an immediate flop, years later, Waterworld managed to gain back some of their loss with a rerelease.

20 most expensive: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

via Hero Complex

Who would even be surprised that the greatest wizards would make the list? And who cares what a Harry Potter budget is, they're always guaranteed to pocket way more. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released in 2009, and with a budget of $285 million, filmmakers were definitely not preoccupied with their colossal budget. Becoming the fifth-highest grossing in the history of the franchise, the film grossed $934 million ― the sixth year at Hogwarts was worth it.

19 most expensive: Tangled

via YouTube

The one film that really doesn't seem like it belongs on this list, Tangled, had a cost production of $260 million ― we guess Disney found somewhere to invest all their cash. Everything released by Walt Disney Pictures is magical and Tangled did not fall short. However, the six years that it took to produce took a toll budget-wise. It is mind-boggling to think how much cash they dished out on a blonde princess with magical hair. The hair is to blame though, as CGI was used to animate all those strands of magical blonde hair.

18 most expensive: Justice League

via I Can't Unsee That Movie

With all the superhero buzz going on, DC feels more pressure each time they release a film, which leads to higher productions costs, like the fifth instalment in the DC universe that was Justice League. Costing them $300 million, the film, with a cast full of huge talent, did not do as well as they anticipated. Though DC may have given it their all to make the film a knockout success, comic fans were disappointed by the $300 million film, and claim that the CGI was awfully dreadful.

17 most expensive: Avengers: Age of Ultron

via Friendly Neighborhood Supercritic

The sequel to Avengers had many factors as to why the cost of production went drastically high. Now, with $377 million in hand, the filmmakers were not worried as they were certain to gross a significant amount ― a dense $1.4 billion to be exact. The budget of Age of Ultron was quickly boosted because cast members threatened to leave if they did not get a higher cut, and the ludicrous locations required the use of drone cameras and increased CGI.

16 most expensive: Avengers: Infinity War

via Screen Rant

Released this year, Infinity War, that is the sequel to Age of Ultrondid not chop its budget much in comparison to its predecessor. Comic fans and people alike are still shocked that the film that took so long to complete, reached a little over $2 billion in earnings. Filmmakers could definitely sashay around town as their film ranks as the fastest to reach $1 billion worldwide along with being the fourth-highest grossing film of all time.

15 most expensive: John Carter

via Letterboxd

Disney really believed in the film John Carter, which was based on a series of novels, and was granted a $281 million budget. The film, released in 2012, is an action adventure film that consists of a storyline with a man going through a civil war and transported to Barsoom, and then turning into a superhero. Unfortunately, viewers did not buy into the movie, and it only grossed $284 million. And because of this huge disappointment, Disney immediately cut the ties.

14 most expensive: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

via The Edge

When success comes, more money comes for sequels, which was the case for the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Financially, the film with a cast full of Hollywood heavyweights did extremely well, but critically, they received negative feedback. With a cost of production of $273 million, the film was loaded with expensive thrills and mind-blowing special effects. However, the reason they got smacked with rotten comments was because of the non-apparent storyline. Who cares? We know Disney didn't when they grossed $1 billion.

13 least expensive: Supersize Me

via Mumby at the Movies

If your late-night craving after a night out is a cheeseburger from McDonald's, this documentary film was probably not your favourite. This low-budget film was able to squeeze all the truth about fast food in their film with a relatively low sum of money of $65,000. Supersize Me exposed the truth about fast food, and it sparked a flickering curiously amongst people all over the world, which is what made the director pocket $29,500,000.

12 least expensive: Rocky

via GeekTyrant

To think that a movie that spawned seven sequels and garnered major success as a film series but started off with a minuscule budget is astounding. It may not be the cheapest on the list, but the film that surrounded the rags-to-riches life of an Italian-American boxer actually reflected the making and success of the film. With a definite eye of a tiger, Sylvester Stallone penned a classic film that was made with a little under $1 million, but definitely won the prize with a gross of $225 million.

11 least expensive: Paranormal Activity

via ScreenGeek

A film that decided to follow the "less is more" aesthetic of The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, also created major talk. For some reason, people enjoy being scared and want to soak themselves with some found footage films like Paranormal Activity that totally frightened audiences. The film terrified viewers, but the filmmaker, that used only $15,000 to make the film, certainly wasn't terrified with his $193.3 million gross; and that is probably why there are five sequels.

10 least expensive: American Graffiti

via Graffiti Art

Before Star Wars came along, the brilliant George Lucas made a killing with his commercial success American Graffiti. Yes, Lucas did make a movie without the use of CGI, and this film, which is a coming-of-age tale set in the early '60s cost him $777,000 to complete. Considering the fact that the film was nominated for Best Picture, Lucas should be proud of the film that made him dance in $140 million. And we are sure Universal was proud of their last-minute choice to pick it up.

9 least expensive: Napoleon Dynamite

via Filmgrab

All those who voted for Pedro helped in making a cheap film a major success and one of the most memorable films jam-packed with epic one-liners. It is hard to put into words just how this modern comedy garnered so much success, but we are glad Napoleon Dynamite came into our lives. The minuscule budget of $400,000 made viewers experience a socially awkward main character bustling his way through high school with hilarious dance moves and geeky sayings. With a legendary dance scene and an epic graphic T-shirt, the comedy pocketed $46 million.

8 least expensive: Night of the Living Dead

via Reel Fives Movie Rankings Aggregator

Before The Walking Dead, there was Night of the Living Dead that made a breakthrough in the zombie world. Yes, even in the 1960s, people were fascinated and thrilled by the zombie apocalypse, which is probably why the low-cost film was a box-office hit. With a budget of $114,000, all following zombie films and television shows need to thank their predecessor and director George A. Romeo for normalizing zombies. Making $30 million was enough to convince people to get on the zombie train.

7 least expensive: Open Water

via Steamline

Sometimes, minimizing your budget is all it takes to get the huge breakthrough, which also proved true with the release of the film Open Water. The film is based on the real-life story of a couple who was accidentally left stranded in the open water, and after watching the film, it is evident that most of the money was spent on water and safety equipment. And let us not forget to mention, they also used their budget on having real sharks during the filming. With a $500,00 budget, the minimalist and suspenseful film grossed just under $55 million.

6 most expensive: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

via PotC Wiki

Are you even surprised that Disney would have so much faith in their Pirates franchise? Released in 2007, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was the third instalment in the series, and with a cost of production of $354 million, they still pocketed in big time. Though the film starts off where the previous Pirates left off, critics found the film too long and difficult to piece together. At the end of the day though, that did not matter, as it brought home a colossal $963 million.

5 most expensive: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

via Collider

Just when you thought we were done with the Pirates franchise, 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides came along with a $412 million budget. Despite the fact that the later instalments of the Pirates series were heavily criticized by critics for being too dragged on and dull, all films still bust the box office, including this one. On Stranger Tides had the lowest audience score, yet, people could not resist watching Johnny Depp again tumbling around crookedly with all his accessories, his dreads, and heavy eyeliner. So much so, that because of these films, Disney is floating in cash.

4 least expensive: Clerks

via Yify

Some people will give up all it takes to make a dream come true, and that is what director Kevin Smith did when he made his first film Clerks, and it certainly paid off. Compared to the other low-cost films on the list, the movie did not rack in as much in box-office sales, but it surely made enough for Smith to kiss the ground after basically putting himself in a hole to make the film; he acquired a $27,000 budget by maxing out his credit cards and faceselling his adored comic collection. However, that all paid off when the film grossed $3.2 million.

3 least expensive: Halloween

via Pinterest

The horror genre is not a favourite of many, but when halloween comes around, most people are watching Jamie Lee Curtis on their screens in the original Halloween. With not many special effects and a minimalist approach, the film with Michael Myers, that is now a horror icon, had a low budget of $325,000. However, in 1978, that did not stop cinema-goers from going to see the horror film with now many sequels that pocketed $70 million.

2 least expensive: Friday the 13th

via YouTube

It is safe to conclude that it does not take a lot of moolah to scare people; just a man with a white hockey mask is sufficient and you can find yourself swimming in a pool full of a cash. Right up behind Halloween is Friday the 13th, a movie that also frightened people despite its low cost of $550,000 to make. Critics will never applaud these films, but they make a killing anyway because people love to test their capacities. And Friday the 13th was not as the film grossed $59.7 million.

1 least expensive: Once

via Movie Fall

Though most Hollywood directors believe in going big for their movies, that does not mean their films are always commercially successful. However, some directors, like John Carney, believe it is better to play on the safe side and put a small amount of money into making a film and guess what? He is hugely successful and is making a living out of the "less is more" motto. The Irish musical Once, cost him only $150,000 to make, and with that, he received praise and a $19 million worldwide gross.

References: tvovermind.com, heculturetrip.com, highsnobiety.com, goliath.com

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15 Of The Most Expensive Films Ever Made (And 15 That Cost Nothing To Make)