Most people would be surprised to know that how much a movie cost to make has absolutely nothing to do with its success in the box office. The staggering amount of money that each of the films featured in this piece cost to produce is nothing short of mind blowing. Each of the films listed did well enough in the theaters to recoup the cost of production and then some, though this is not always the case. Keep in mind when reviewing this list that the expenses have all been adjusted to reflect inflation. This is why it is easy to compare what a movie cost to produce in 1995 against a movie that was made in later years.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At the Worlds End – $332 million
The third in the Pirates of the Caribbean chain was not only the most expensive movie to make in its series, but the most expensive movie produced to date. Until its release in 2007, the most expensive movie of all time was the original Cleopatra which held the record for more than 30 years. At the Worlds End was directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The films unique story line was well received by both the public and the critics alike, grossing over 1 billion dollars in revenue since its release.
2. Spiderman 3 – $286 million
The heavy focus on computer generated visual effects ate up most of this films budget as did the cost of hiring and maintaining the big name actors and actresses and other talent. Visual effects was a big deal back in 2007 when this film was made. It did well enough in the box office despite the mixed reviews it received from the critics. Produced by Columbia pictures, this film unlike the prior sequels had Scott Stokdyk handling visual effects, rather than John Dykstra.
3. Titanic – $286 million
Perhaps the biggest love story of all time, one would never think that this movie was once surrounded by a cloud of negative press. This film was made in 1997, but earned its highest revenue during the year 1998. In fact, in 1998 it held the record for the highest earning movie of all time. The big price tag to produce this movies was mostly due to the construction of the ship and the visual effects used to simulate the destruction of the ship. This film today, is still considered one of the best films ever made.
4. Tangled – $274 million
The fact that this Disney movie took a little under 6 years to complete, may be considered a likely cause for its escalated budget. This film was reportedly stopped, tweaked, and restarted numerous times from start to finish. The film still did quite well in the box office generating over 590 million dollars. Its success is largely in part due to the special visual effects that were unique to this type of film in 2010.
5. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – $268 million
This the sixth of the Harry potter sequels and was made in 2009. It is also the classic example of the term “money well spent”. Though the makers were likely sweating bullets when reviewing the steep costs of production, they were surely put at ease when the film grossed 394 million dollars within 5 days of its release. It was the most popular in the Harry Potter series ultimately grossing close to 934 million dollars overall.
You will probably notice that Spiderman 3 and Titanic cost the exact same amount of money to produce, both coming in with price tags of 286 million dollars. It is for this reason that you have the special privilege of having the number 6 most expensive movie ever produced revealed to you.
6. Waterworld – $259 million
In 1995, when this film was first released it was the most expensive film to produce of all time. However, unlike the top 5 most expensive films to make of all time, it barely broken even after the costs such as cinema chain cuts and marketing were taken into account. This scientific fiction film which featured a post-apocalyptic vibe just did not hit home with critics and the public alike. It seemed doomed from the start with rumored conflict existing between the director Kevin Reynolds and the producer. It is undeniably considered one of Bruce Willis worst films to date.
7. Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest – $256 million
This was the most popular of the Pirate series though it was not the most expensive to produce. It still was very costly to make, but it was considered an instant success from the time it hit the theaters in 2006. It generated over 1 billion dollars in revenue since its release.
8. Avatar – $256 million
Titanic was considered the highest grossing film until Avatar hit theaters in 2009 and smashed its 12 year record. Ironically, both movies were produced by James Cameron. When Avatar hit the box office it grossed over 2 billion dollars in revenue.
9. John Carter – $250 million
A box office bomb, this movie was an instant flop. Its only saving grace was its sales in the overseas market. Critics smashed it with bad reviews. Its inflated budget was in part due to trying to find ways for the visual effects to come on-line with other movies released in 2011 and 2012.
10. King Kong – $243 million
When this movie was released in 2005 it was already hyped up by the rumors of what was considered an extremly large budget. It had great visual effects for its time. It received positive marks from the public and critics. It grossed around 600 million dollars.