Top 10 Most Expensive Films Ever Made

Movies are an important art form and the most popular kind of entertainment. Counts of motion pictures are released everyday worldwide since it is a lucrative market to earn money. And to earn money, an initial outlay is needed from which you hope to make it big. But, huge investments do not always guarantee huge returns. Some of the movies go on to create history in box office collections and make a long standing impact , while others do not live up to their hype and expectations and prove to be a bomb at the box office.

Hollywood movies have constantly been the ones that have been made with huge sums of money due to their global outreach. Two landmark budget thresholds were crossed in the 1990s – the $100 million milestone was crossed by True Lies, and the $200 million mark was crossed by Titanic. After that, with the increasing use of visual effects, high cast and crew wages, story rights and other production costs, a slew of films are being produced at budgets over $200 million.

The following movies are listed here in the order of increasing budget, adjusted for inflation, taking the year of release.


1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – $338 million

Pirates of the Caribbean - At World’s End

The third film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is the most expensive movie ever made to date. The movie was directed by Gore Verbinski, who was the director of the previous two instalments as well. The movie retains its previous star cast including Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush. The plot shows Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, and Hector Barbossa, on a quest to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from the world’s end, and then preparing to take on the forces of the East India Trading Company, led by Cutler Beckett and Davy Jones. Receiving mixed critical reviews, the movie was still a hit, collecting over $960 million.


2. Titanic (1997) – $291 million


Easily one of the best movies ever made, Titanic was directed and co-produced by David Cameron. It is an epic romantic disaster film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, who though belong to different social classes fall in love aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic. Though plagued by negative press, the film achieved critical and commercial success, grossing $1.84 billion and remaining the highest-grossing movie of all time for 12 years. A 3D re-release caused the total collections to become $2.18 billion, making it only the second movie to cross the $2 billion mark. Cameron became the King of the World at the Oscars with the film winning 11 Oscars, tying Ben Hur for the most Oscars by a single film.


3. Spider-Man 3 (2007) – $290 million

Spider-Man 3

The third and final film in the highly popular Spiderman series directed by Sam Raimi stars Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, and Topher Grace. The film details the chronicles of Spiderman as an extraterrestrial entity causes inner turmoil in Peter’s life, while he battles with three villains – the new Goblin, Sandman and Venom. The presence of three antagonists drove up the production costs for visual effects.


4. Tangled (2010) – $278 million


Tangled is an animated fantasy film, loosely based on the German fairy tale ‘Rapunzel’. Produced by the Walt Disney Animation Studios, it spent six years in production and is the most expensive animated film ever made. It tells the tale of a princess with magical long hair, who manages to escape the confines of her secluded tower to discover the outside world for the first time.


5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – $272 million

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The sixth instalment in the famous Harry Potter series was directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Based on the novel by J. K. Rowling by the same name, the movie embarks on the story of Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts where he discovers a mysterious old book and gains insight into his nemesis’s, Lord Voldemort’s, past. The film is considered one of the best in the series and was noted for its cinematography.


6. Waterworld (1995) – $264 million


Starring and co-produced by the commercially and critically bullet-proof Kevin Coster, the film was synonymous to the term ‘box office bomb’ before John Carter. The budget ballooned to a huge $172 million mainly because it was filmed in an artificial seawater enclosure off the Hawaii coast. In the post-apocalyptic future, when all polar ice caps have melted, a mutated mariner acts as a saviour of a woman and a young girl to find dry land. It just managed to break even after taking video and other post-cinema sales into account.


7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – $261 million

Pirates of the Caribbean - dead man's chest

This fantasy adventure film, second in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, grew so popular that the film went on to become the 10th highest grossing film of all time and was also the fastest movie to ever gross $1 billion at the time. The film starts Johnny Depp, who portrays the legendary Captain Jack Sparrow, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. The film picks up from where the first movie left off, Will Turner is in pursuit of Jack Sparrow to retrieve his magic compass, who in turn is after Davy Jones heart. Jack must recover Jones’s heart if he is to avoid himself becoming enslaved by Jones. The movie received four Academy Award nominations and won the one for Best Visual Effects.


8. Avatar (2009) – $258 million


The epic science fiction movie starring Sam Wothington and Zoe Saldana, was directed, written, co-produced and co-edited by James Cameron. The movie’s development started way back in 1994 and was planned for a release in 1999, but Cameron sighted lack of necessary technology as the reason for not being able to do justice to his vision of the film. The movie opened with positive critical reviews and was praised for its ground-breaking visual effects. The movie is set on Pandora, a distant habitable moon, where a Marine, sent on a mission finds himself at odds with those from Earth and decides to side with the local tribe. The movie won 3 Oscars, including the one for Best Visual Effects. It broke all box office records to become the highest grosser of all time, scooping up a whopping $2.78 billion.


9. John Carter (2012) – $254 million

John Carter

Considered as a box office bomb, John Carter was directed by Andrew Stanton, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and was based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars. John Carter dies under mysterious circumstances and leaves his diary for his nephew to read. The journal recounts the tale of Carter being a Civil War veteran, who is accidentally transported to Mars, where he is held prisoner by the local 12-feet tall beasts. He falls in love with a princess from the alien land and attempts to save her.


10. King Kong (2005) – $247 million

King Kong

Directed and co-produced by Peter Jackson, this 2005 movie was a remake of the 1933 film of the same name. Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody and Andy Serkis, this movie held a record for being the most expensive at its time at $207 million. Set in the 1930s, an ambitious movie producer takes his cast and crew to the mysterious Skull Island, where they come across a giant ape, Kong, who is smitten by the leading lady. The love story between the beauty and the beast is furthered as the ape is captured and brought back to New York City with disastrous consequences. It grossed over $550 million worldwide, and also won 3 Academy Awards – Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.

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