As the years progress it seems that Hollywood movies keep getting bigger and bigger. Quite a few movies are being created with more special effects, CGI or 3D technology, but that also means these types of films require an extremely large budget, much higher than your average flick.
In order to create a great movie, producers need to dish out a lot of money, which usually puts their movies in the category of most expensive to make. Quite often movies with large budgets become the most profitable in the cinematic industry in terms of revenue, but that doesn’t always necessarily mean these films are great movies. Whether big bucks were spent on production value and special effect, or assembling a top notch cast of A-listers, these films all broke the bank in one way or another.
Here is our list of the top 15 most expensive movies ever made:
15. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – $246.1 million
X:Men: The Last Stand is part of one of the most popular superhero movie franchises and was released in 2006. The film stars a long list of top named celebrities including Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart. The very reason why the movie’s budget was so high, as well as all of the visual and makeup effects.
The original estimated budget of X-Men: The Last Stand was $210 million and the film grossed $459 million at the box office.
14. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) – $246.9 million
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was released in 2008 and was based on C.S. Lewis’s wildly popular children’s book and the movie soon became a multi-million dollar film production. Most of it was filmed in the UK because of the tax cuts, on account of the producer of the film needing to cut costs, as the production of the film had an exceptionally high budget. A big portion of the cost was due to the visual effects needed in order to create the fantasy world of Narnia. In total, there were 7,000 props, and 200 carpenters building the sets, as well as 35 employees who were hired for the sole purpose of making the props. Thankfully the movie was a box office hit, making the high production cost worth it.
The original budget of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was $225 million and it ended up making $419,665,568 at the box office.
13. Spider-Man 2 (2004) – $250.1 million
Spider-Man 2 was released in 2004 and it appeared to earn a rapid amount of money just as the 1st installment of Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man trilogy did. A huge amount of the cost in the making of the film went to special effects, which was the main expense in making the movie.
The estimated budget for Spider-Man 2 was $200 million, and it more than made up for its costs as it ended up earning $783.8 million.
12. King Kong (2005) – $250.4 million
Peter Jackson‘s remake of the 1933 classic King Kong is one of the most expensive movies made that involved CGI. Most of the sets were CGI as well as half of the film’s cast, which is very costly for the production of a movie.
The original budget for King Kong was an estimated $207 million and it ended up grossing $665.9 million at the box office.
11. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) – $256.8 million
The 2003 movie, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had a high budget from the start, and a huge portion of the cost went towards obtaining story rights as well as cast (Arnold doesn’t come cheap) and visual effects.
The estimated budget for Terminator 3 was $200 million and it grossed $556.5 million at the box office, making it a worthy investment, even if critics and fans largely bashed the film.
10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $257.2 million
Superhero movies it seems, always top the box office (excluding The Green Lantern and Daredevil of course). 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises is one of the most expensive films ever made. Director Christopher Nolan, never seems to disappoint his fans when it comes to incorporating suspense and action into his movies. Surprisingly enough The Dark Knight Rises was only the third highest grossing film that year. Despite its high budget, it did still bring in a large amount of money, pulling in $1.1 billion at the box office.
9. Avatar (2009) – $261 million
James Cameron was actually supposed to begin production of Avatar after the release of his blockbuster movie Titanic. Instead, he waited ten years to begin working on his film, and the reason was due to the fact that he didn’t feel that the technology was good enough at that time to produce the vision he had in mind. The largest expenses for Avatar were graphics and visual effects.
The original budget was $237 million but the profit the film generated made all the expenses diminish considering Avatar made $3.1 billion at the box office.
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – $263.7 million
Dead Man’s Chest came out in 2006 and is the second installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise starring Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. Having a cast of A-list celebrities always drives up the cost of a film’s production. Johnny’s Depp’s payment was an estimated $20 million, not to mention that the cost of the props for the movie was massive. The ships used in the film, The Flying Dutchman and The Black Pearl, were actually built just for Dead Man’s Chest.
The budget for Dead Man’s Chest was an estimated $237 million and it ended up grossing $1.2 billion.
7. Waterworld (1995) – $271.3 million
The post-apocalyptic 1995 film Waterworld had a large budget of $271 million, but wasn’t entirely well received among its viewers. Unfortunately, Waterworld was one of the films that was expensive to make but didn’t really generate much at the box office.
The original budget for Waterworld was set for $175 million and it ended up grossing just $409.6 million in theatres.
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) -$275.3 million
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out in 2009 and is the sixth part of the series, based on the novel by JK Rowling. The film was so highly anticipated that on its opening night it broke records, becoming the biggest single-day gross in cinema history.
The budget for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was set for $250 million and just five days after its release had made $394 million. In total the film made $1 billion at the box office.
5. Tangled (2010) – $281.7 million
The 2010 Disney movie Tangled, which is based on the story of Rapunzel, told the story of a princess trapped in a tower just like the original Brothers Grimm tale did. The film has been the most expensive animated movie ever made and actually took six years to finish. The reason why it took so long to be released was due to complications with mixed mediums of computer generated imagery and animation all costing the production of the film a lot of money.
Tangled originally had a budget of $260 million and ended up grossing $590.7 million at the box office.
4. Spider-Man 3 (2007) – $293.9 million
Spider-Man 3, the last of the trilogy was the most expensive out of all of them, with a budget of $293 million. Unfortunately, even though so much money was spent on creating the film it didn’t seem to be well received by fans of the Spider-Man films. However, considering all the negative reviews the film got it still grossed $890 million at the box office.
3. Titanic (1997) – $294.3 million
In order to create a film as elaborate as Titanic was, a massive budget was definitely in order. Titanic remains one of the most expensive films ever made with a total cost of $294 million, however the large cost of the movie was more than justified considering Titanic brought in $1.8 billion at the box office the first time around, and an extra $343.6 million upon its 3D re-release in 2012. Titanic became the second movie in history to gross over $2 billion at the box office after Avatar.
2. Cleopatra (1963) – $339.5 million
It might be a bit shocking to see that Cleopatra is one of the most expensive films ever made, especially considering how old the film is. However, when adjusted for inflation the 1963 film would have cost $339 million today. For that year, Cleopatra was the highest grossing film, but because of the extremely high budget, it is actually the only high grossing film on this list that suffered a loss.
Originally with a budget of $44 million in 1963 the film only generated $26 million at the box office which would equate to just under $200 million in 2015.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – $341.8 million
With an estimated budget of $300 million for the production, The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is the most expensive film ever made and it also tripled its budget with a tremendous box office gross of $1.1 billion. Besides the cost of props and high paid cast members, the film was also shot all over the world in places such as Singapore, Muerte, Pelegosto, Tortuga, and Isla Cruces. At World’s End was the third instalment of the Pirate of the Caribbean franchise and a fifth instalment is set to come out sometime this year.
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