With budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars, some Hollywood creations spend more on one movie than what many make in a lifetime, and not always on the big stars. These are the most expensive movies ever made. Most of them were fortunate enough to earn the dollars back and make a fortune; however, some titles were barely able to break even.
When James Cameron's epic "Avatar" hit our screens, it was heralded as a technical masterpiece due to its unmatched CGI use. It had a budget of $237 million and overwhelmed the production team when it grasped more than $2.9 billion. Having said that, the movie was not all that.
What the film had in visuals, it lacked in its content and plot. Once audiences got over the "wow" factor of the film, many pointed out that "Avatar" glorified problematic themes of colonization and white saviorism. Some have even argued the film is a copy-paste of the classic (and equally problematic) "Pocahontas."
Sean Connery and Uma Thurman star in this remake of the long-running British spy series based on Marvel’s comic books. Both are titled “The Avengers.” One was epic; the other has been called the worst movie ever. The movie registered a 5% on the Tomatometer. “The Avengers” tanked royally. It had a high budget of almost $90 million; however, it performed badly, and the money practically went to waste.
On Rotten Tomatoes, it was called “inept” and a “woefully miscast disaster.” This summer release was a summer bummer. With nine Golden Raspberry nominations, it won “Worst Remake or Sequel” as well as “Worst Resurrection of a TV Show.”
Ah, the 2010s. Superhero film franchises were at their peak. DC Comic fans were overjoyed to learn that beloved director Zach Synder would be at the helm of the "Justice League" film. However, their hopes were soon dashed when Synder left the production before its completion. The movie had an astonishing budget of $300 million and eventually made $657 in box office.
Fans hated Weadon's take on the film! DC fans were so upset that they formed their own Justice League! Their mission? To have director Zack Snyder's cut of the "Justice League" released. Finally, in 2021, the 4-hour "Synder Cut" was unveiled. To say that it received a far warmer reception is an understatement.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
This space Western film is based on one of "Star Wars" favorite characters, Han Solo. As it's associated with one of the most successful movie franchises in cinema history, expectations were high; however, the production didn't exactly deliver. Reviews about this Star Wars spin-off were tepid. Analysts of publications such as The Atlantic and Entertainment Weekly credited the movie's deficient box office performance to inadequate marketing and what was coined "Star Wars fatigue."
It had a budget of almost $300 million and made just a little over. "Solo" came out just five months after "The Last Jedi," becoming the fourth series film released in less than 30 months. Perhaps viewers just needed a break from the Star Wars saga.
Adjusted for inflation, John Carter lost up to $214 million. Director Andrew Staton (Pixar) based it on an obscure sci-fi novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs called "A Princess of Mars." Surprisingly, it takes place in Barsoom, not Mars. Disney reportedly wanted to distance itself from its other flop, Mars Needs Moms, and shortened the original title from “John Carter of Mars” to just John Carter). Stanton, its eminent director, it seems, is the main culprit for the insane budget because of his film-scrapping, reshoots, and edits.
The Hollywood Reporter called it “a rather charming pastiche,” but reviews were definitely mixed. John Carter needed more than stellar reviews to save it. Unfortunately, the box office run ended at just over $73 million. Gross ticket sales were a tad higher at $284.1 million, but that didn’t erase the loss, which was reported to be $130 - $214 million.
Batman v Superman
Lex Luthor is one of the iconic comic book villains up there with the Joker and Magneto. Plenty of people were hoping for a powerful actor who has already stunned as a bald villain – like Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad" when he says, "I am the one who knocks" – but we got Jesse Eisenberg. The movie had a budget of $325 million; when it came to the box office, it made $873 million.
Superman's arch-nemesis needs more, and Eisenberg didn't have it in him. Many found his character too manic, loud, and wild for what a good Luther should be – a little bit too close to the Joker for many people's liking. It left many fans hating the film due to its questionable casting choice.
Beauty and the Beast
Who could've predicted that there would be a boycott against Disney's live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast?" Director Bill Condon took the leap and used his artistic liberties to include the first-ever gay character in a Disney film. While this move was widely appealed to, many were displeased.
So much so that it prompted some countries to ban the film and even a boycott from a few states in the USA. The movie had a budget of just a little over $125 million, and honestly, we don't know where all the money went. It grasped almost $425 at the box office, so we assume some audiences liked it.
The Lone Ranger
"The Lone Ranger" had a budget of $250 million; however, it failed to pay that back after being released. Nothing beats Johnny Depp as an interesting character, but this casting choice was a bit too interesting for most people. The movie was a huge box office bomb for Disney, losing almost two hundred million dollars, and Depp's casting was a primary issue.
Tonto is a Native American character, which would have been a great way for a Native American actor to show his skills. Instead, we got Captain Jack Sparrow – and his costume for the film also raised some eyebrows. Depp's acting wasn't the problem, but his "redface" is the leading storyline when most people talk about this movie.
The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey
So firstly, let’s remember that it would be nigh impossible to follow "The Lord of the Rings" with a trilogy that would even come close to the Academy Award-winning franchise. But some of the fans were at least hopeful that at least they’d be able to be transported once again to the world of Middle Earth.
Maybe there was a lack of likability among the band of hobbits or the fact that they drew out what should’ve been a maximum of two films into three. "An Unexpected Journey" was the first Hobbit movie to be released, with a budget of almost $300 million. Being the first in the series, it made more than $1 billion.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The third and last part of "The Hobbit" trilogy came out in 2014 and finalized the series, which, instead of escalating and becoming the new Harry Potter, the fans weren't so impressed. The production could only dream of the first part's performance and decided to wrap things up after.
According to the fan reviews, the second half of the movie was lacking in content; there were no drams, and it lost the magic the previous Hobbit movie brought. "The Battle of the Five Armies" had a budget of just a little over $200 and made $900 million, which is not bad in Hollywood terms but not great in Hobbit terms.
Universal strangely agreed to produce a movie based on the childhood-favorite Hasbro board game — Battleship. The songstress Rihanna, who made her acting debut in the film, was the most familiar face featured, but she alone wasn't enough to attract moviegoers. As if "Battleship" hadn't received enough negative criticism, the film about an alien invasion that the U.S. Navy halted was called one of the worst Naval war films ever.
Ultimately, the film was a bit too "dumbed down" and did not justify the $200 budget it had. The movie only made $300 million. It desperately needed to help fill theater seats to appeal to the adult audience. Perhaps this will make screenplay producers hesitate when the next screenplay writer comes to them with a "brilliant" idea for a movie based on Monopoly.
James Cameron's epic romance had...titanic...success when it was released in 1997 and still stands today as one of the most beloved films of all time. Not to mention, it instantly shot Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet into the Hollywood royalty realm. The film's record-breaking success didn't mean it was free from controversy behind the scenes. Not only was it six months behind schedule, but it also reportedly went $100 million over budget.
Yes, you read that correctly. $100 million! It started off with $100 million and reached $200 million; however, it made more than $2.2 billion so everyone was forgiven. Even worse, over 60 crew members fell severely ill after having their lunch spiked with PCP. While the culprit has never been caught, it's assumed that it was a disgruntled crew member in response to the difficult working conditions Cameron created on set.
Ah, "Waterworld," the movie that sunk at the box office harder than the Titanic. Despite earning a mere $88 million domestically on a $175 million budget, the film has since become a cult classic among fans who appreciate its wacky world-building and Kevin Costner's inexplicable gills.
Set in a future where global warming has turned Earth into one big ocean, the film follows Costner as a mutated mariner embroiled in a quest for "Dryland" with a young girl with a mysterious map. Sure, "Waterworld" may have drowned at the box office, but it's now a beloved cult classic for fans of cheesy '90s blockbusters and over-the-top action.
Ah, "Cleopatra," the movie that made Elizabeth Taylor look like she owned an entire pyramid of diamonds. It was the biggest-budget film of its time, with a production cost that would make modern-day movie executives tremble in their boots. But alas, all that glitters is not box office gold. Despite earning $26 million upon release, it still fell short of the $31.1 million budget.
But "Cleopatra" has since been celebrated for its epic scale and Elizabeth Taylor's captivating performance as the Egyptian queen. It's a must-see for anyone who loves glitz, glamour, and a lot of sand. And don't forget the juicy behind-the-scenes gossip, including multiple director changes and on-set romances.
Before he solidified his character as the bad-boy Marvel superhero, Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds portrayed the DC Comics superhero, Green Lantern. He starred along with some other big A-list actors such as Angela Bassett, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, and his wife (whom he met on-set), Blake Lively. Released in the summer of 2011, "Green Lantern" received generally negative reviews for its inconsistent tone, portrayal of villains, and mediocre use of CGI. Its execution was just poor.
The project's production budget was a generous $230 million, but after its underperformance at the box office, it grossed only $219 million worldwide. Accounting for the production costs, which included costly 3D conversion and marketing expenses, it cost Warner Bros. a painful $98 million. Consequently, any plans for a sequel were canceled.
The Golden Compass
While Phillip Pullman's book trilogy "His Dark Materials" is widely successful, the film adaption never managed to live up to its source material. During the early stages of the production of "The Golden Compass," various religious groups called for a boycott of the film due to its subject matter.
After succumbing to the pressure, the film's plot was drastically changed, much to Pullman's fans and critics' dismay. The movie had a generous budget of $180 million; however, it only managed to grasp $300 million. It might seem like a lot to people like us; however, by Hollywood standards, it is not really.
Big on comedy legends, “short on laughs,” according to Rotten Tomatoes. Stunning special effects helped it register 23%. Those special effects, CGI in order to animate an ark-load of Noah’s species-protected beasts during the flood, made it the most expensive movie at the time it was produced. Evan (Steve Carell), a newly elected congressman of fictional town Prestige Crest, chills with God (Morgan Freeman), hoping the Almighty will answer the congressman’s prayers.
He just won an election on a campaign promise to save the world, and now the difficulties are piling up. The official production budget was $175 million. However, according to rumor, it likely looked more like $210 million. The box office grossed at $173.4.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" delivers epic battles, nostalgic callbacks, and a satisfying conclusion to the saga, leaving fans exhilarated and emotionally fulfilled. Its breathtaking visuals and iconic moments make it a thrilling space opera. It may not have been the best Star Wars film, but it certainly had an all-star cast. The budget the crew had to work with was a whopping $416 million; however, the $1 billion it made paid it back.
In fact, one of the most paused scenes in the movie is when Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda makes a cameo appearance right at the end. In the final scene, when everybody is celebrating the defeat of the Final Order, you can spot Miranda jumping around for joy as one of the pilots.
The Chronicles Of Narnia; Prince Caspian
“Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia” is the second of C.S. Lewis’ seven-novel fantasy, and it is the subject of Disney’s children’s movie, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.” On the upside, “Prince Caspian” delivered spectacular visuals overall, though some scenes exuded lazy CGI editing. The movie had a budget of $225 million and made just a little more than that.
According to Roger Ebert, Glaringly absent were some of the best-loved creatures from the first Narnia movie. Mr. Tumnus the Faun and Mrs. Beaver do not return. And the movie is confusing; it doesn’t make clear who the Narnians are. Another complaint is that the siblings were overly violent.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
There are plenty of points to praise about the second installment of the “Transformers” franchise. It did make a killing at the box office and even got a nod at the Oscars for Best Sound Mixing. However, there are also many negative points about “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” It earned a total of seven Golden Razzie nominations.
Unsurprisingly, Megan Fox was nominated for Worst Actress; even less surprising, Michael Bay was nominated for Worst Director. At the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony, Bay took home the trophy for that year’s Worst Director. With a budget of $200 million, the movie made over $800 million, so it couldn't have been that bad.
Toy Story 3
From Pixar's beginnings as a testing platform for new computer animation techniques, the animation studio has always preferred technical innovation over simpler methods. "Toy Story" is sweetly charming but shouldn't be written off as fluff. With an odd couple in the form of Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the movie is a stellar comedy that harmonizes well with touching childhood themes.
The third part of "Toy Story" was a perfect ending to the series. It had a $200 million budget and made over $1 billion at the box office. The intelligence and sense of humor that is sprinkled within the text make this movie an old-time favorite.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
$245 is what it costs to create "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which brings this title to the top of the most expensive movies ever made list. It was directed by J.J. Abrams in 2015 and brought back to the screen the beloved characters from the original trilogy. Not only that, but it introduced a new bunch of heroes that didn't fall behind.
The movie was astonishing in many aspects; however, its stunning visual effects and captivating storyline made it so successful. The budget for creating this movie was high; however, it was justified after realizing who the cast was and the fact that it did eventually gross over $2 billion worldwide.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
When it comes to movies of this sort, they are bound to cost gazillions. "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" cost just a little over $170 million, staying ahead of the first movie of the Jurassic Park franchise and in the lead in the Jurassic World trilogy. It was released in 2018, directed by J.A. Bayona, and became a favorite amongst wild adventure lovers.
The visual effects in the movie were astonishing and left even the most professional people in the industry amassed. It managed to take the audience onto another dimension and transport them to a real new Jurassic world. When it came to the critics, like always, they had something to say, and not all were positive. However, the movie was a huge box office hit and grossed $1.3 billion worldwide.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" was one of the most expensive movies ever made. It came out in 2011 and managed to refresh and renew the story, surprisingly not returning to the same pattern and format the previous movies in the series had.
Director Rob Marshall brought his creatin safety to box office shores, with $1 billion dollars awaiting him (well, not personally for him, but for the movie's bank account). The movie became a huge hit among Jonny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Penélope Cruz lovers and kept audiences curious and wondering if more movies would follow...
Avengers: Age of Ultron
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a superhero classic that grasped awards that wouldn't shame any other Marvel creation. In this movie, all of the superheroes of the university find themselves facing a new threat named Ultron. The film was a huge success and became one of the best movies of this range.
It costs almost $280 million to create and grosses almost $1.5 billion all over the world. Unlike other movies, the storyline doesn't focus only on one superhero but zooms out and concentrates on the universe as a whole, tuning the storyline to be about many and not individuals.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
In 2007, Gore Verbinski brought to the world one of his greatest masterpieces, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." To some, this was just another movie in the series, but to us, this whopping 300 million dollar picture was not only the most expensive one but one of the best storylines, too.
In the movie, the amazing Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann find themselves confronting Davy Jones, and they, with no doubt, yet again, captivate the audiences. Overnight, the movie became an all-time fan favorite and has been defined as the flagship creation of this franchise series.
Avatar: The Way of Water
When the movie "Avatar: The Way of Water" was first written, no one thought it would reach the astonishing $250 million it did. The producers knew it would cost a fair amount of big ones; however, while filming, the budget grew and grew and grew. The movie shifted over to the big boys' league within no time.
The technology used in the movie was groundbreaking and impeccable, and with a perfectly written story, the movie delivered a true masterpiece. The fact that the movie's predecessors were so successful kept the expectations high, and the movie didn't fail to deliver. This is one of our favorites on the list.
Like always, the Fast and Furious series kept its promise in "Fast X" too. The movie, as expected, brought astonishing stunts, jaw-dropping effects, and pure heart-pounding entertainment, Exactly what everyone needs on a Saturday night. The movie grossed over $500 million worldwide.
We can confidently say that "Fast X" is a blockbuster hit, and fans' expectations were truly fulfilled. Even though the DNA of the film was somehow altered, the $200 million hit still managed to impress just as the other movies in the series did. The movie is filled with unexpected cameos and spectacular scenes that other movie creators could do.
You can never get enough of Superman. This creation was brought into the world in 1938, and since then, it has adorned screens, both big and small, and amazingly, it still manages to surprise us. And it did the same in "Superman Doomsday," too. The movie cost over $250 million to make; however, what is 250 in comparison to what it earned?
The movie, unsurprisingly, became a huge box office success, grasping almost $900 million worldwide. This is more proof that the world cannot get enough of superhero movies, cannot get enough of Superman, and if the writers are able to leave the audiences waiting impatiently for more, then they have guaranteed their income for the next decade... easily.
There is always room for an animated movie. "Tangled" is one of Disney's masterpieces. It is a story of magic wrapped in a beautiful tale of pure love and romance. It came out in 2010 and became one of the most expensive animated movies ever coming alive. It cost $260 million.
Nathan Greno directed the movie and transformed the beloved Rapunzel into a modern and appealing piece. He turned the beloved character into a magnetic princess, and together with charming Flynn Rider, they grasped more than $591 million worldwide. Not only did this bring a captivating plot, but the visuals and the fact that many of the original elements were preserved make this movie a true masterpiece.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
When "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" was released, it took Potter to lever up the mysterious world of wizarding. The movie had a budget of $250 million, making it one of the most expensive ones in the series. In this movie, Voldemort's origins are explored, and magic, friendship, and how not betrayal are all given a shift and taken on to a new dimension.
The sixth movie in the series was released in 2009 and instantly became a huge commercial success and, within one day, made more than 100 million big ones. It grossed $934 million and became the second-highest-grossing movie of that year.
King Kong (2005)
When the first "King Kong" movie came out in 1933, no one thought that more than 70 years later, a new and modern version would be released, costing the production a whopping $207 million. The movie was directed by Peter Jackson, who brought the audience to Skull Island, home of the giant ape.
The movie was full of special effects and top-of-the-range action scenes, which dazzled the audience. Every little detail in the script was thought of, and it paid off, and the movie became a huge hit instantly. It sat comfortably in the top ten movies of that year, and it was praised by viewers and critics alike.
Furious 7 (2015)
$190 million was spent while creating the 2015 version of "Furious," known to most of us as "Fast & Furious 7." The movie paid tribute to Paul Walker, who tragically passed away when he was barely thirty years old. Walker played the role of Brian O'Connor in two of the Fast and Furious series.
The tribute gave the movie an emotional touch and made it somewhat softer than previous movies; however, it still managed to bring to the screen astonishing stunts and great action. The movie ended up making more than $1.5 billion, and to this day, it remains one of the most popular and successful movies in its category.
X-Men: The Last Stand
Like all movies in the series, the 2006 "X-Men: The Last Stand" is based on the hit X-Men comic book that first came out in 1963 by Marvel. The movie is a sequel to the X-2 movie and brought with it a long line of astonishing actors. The movie featured Huge Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, and many, many others.
This movie was one of the most expensive movies produced that year. It manages to grasp almost $450 million globally and shows, yet again, that the world can never have enough of X-Men, and when it comes to Marvel, they surely know how to do it.
"Spectre" was the 24th Bond movie to hit the screens. It had an astonishing budget of $245 million and delivered its promise of another great James Bond spy thriller. Daniel Craig mastered his role as the iconic agent and even got us wondering where he was for the series' previous movies.
The movie earned $880 million, making it one of the most profitable Bond movies. There is never too much of James Bond, there definitely never too much of Daniel Craig, and from what we can see, there is no such thing as too much money to be spent on producing a movie.
Wild Wild West
"Wild Wild West" was released in 1999 based on a story written by Jim and John Thomas. The storyline was based on the 1960s Television show version. Will Smith starred in the movie; however, this was not the first time he collaborated with the movie's director, Barry Sonnenfeld, as the two go back many years to the days of "Men in Black."
It brought back to life a film category that was almost forgotten and cleaned of the heavy dust that buried the old Wild West. Although it cost around $220 million to make, the movie failed to break even and made a total of a little over $100 million worldwide. The reviews were negative; the audiences were not impressed, but it took home five Golden Raspberry Awards.
The Fate of the Furious
"The Fate of the Furious" is the eighth movie in the Fast and Furious series. The movie was planned in 2014 and hit the screens in 2017. Like all casts in the series, the cast was impressive and included Charlize Theron, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson, amongst others.
The critics were mixed. Some say this was one of the best releases; however, some felt the movie failed to deliver the same rush and excitement previous releases did, with barely any effort. "The Fate of the Furious" earned $1.2 million, preserving its place as one of the most expensive movies made that year.
"The Lion King"
To this day, "The Lion King" is considered one of the most beautiful stories ever written. To this day, the stages of the London West End perform the show, and Elton John's voice is still heard singing the Circle of Life. And what about Disney's part of this grand success?
With a budget of $260 million, the 1994 Disney classic is one of the most expensive animated movies ever made and earned a whopping mind-blowing $1.6 billion worldwide. Even to this day, nothing beats the magnetic magic of this beautiful story (and lesson), which is still relevant to this day.
The $270 million budget movie that came out in 2006 brought the super superhero back to our screens. This version of the series brought Superman back to life after a long break and featured Brandon Routh, who fit perfectly in the superhero suits.
As expected, the movie had brilliant special effects and an impressive storyline that managed to cling to the original storyline and continue the plot. "Superman Returns" respected the legacy of one of the most famous and appreciated characters in the superhero world, and although the reviews were mixed, it earned over $391 million, so that pretty much says it all.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
In May 2023, the new and impressive Indiana Jones movie was released. It is a sequel to the 2008 movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and the fifth (and supposedly) the last in the Indiana Jones series. The movie featured Harrison Ford, who's been playing the Jones character nonstop since 1981. Impressive.
Globally, the movie has grossed over $380 million; however, it would need a massive $600 million to break even and more than $800 if it were to be considered a success. It is thought that the movie failed, not because it didn't draw enough aidance, but because it was too costly and the production exceeded its initial budget.
The Dark Knight Rises
"The Dark Knight Rises" is a 2012 tribute to Batman. It features Christian Bale, who played Batman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman, and many other talented names. The movie grossed more than 1 billion big ones, making it one of the highest-grossing films in the superhero category.
It was impossible for the movie to fail. The movie was engaging, Christian Bale was impeccable, and with the success of the previous "The Dark Knight" and "Inception," the road to success was secured. Not all believed this was a great movie. However, it manages to sit comfortably in the Batman library, keeping audiences wanting more.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
"Dead Reckoning Part One" is the seventh movie in the "Mission Impossible" series. It was released in 2023 and stars Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Simon Pegg, and many others who made this movie the huge success it came to. With a budget of around $250 million, the movie delivered the action that was expected and magnificent stunts only Cruise could pull off (he insisted on doing everything alone without the help of a stuntman).
"Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One" is not the last, and there will be more. It became a fan favorite, and some say it will become one of the best mission movies ever. Only time will tell.
Jurassic World Dominion
When "Jurassic World Dominion" was first thought of, it was believed that this movie would be the best. So, we are not sure it succeeded the most; however, it definitely cost the most. With an astonishing budget of $200 million, the movie is set four years after the storyline of "Fallen Kingdom." In this plot, dinosaurs live with humans, and Owen Grady, together with Clair Dearing, embarks on a new rescue mission.
The movie was directed by Colin Trevorrow, who managed to bring back some of the original Jurassic Park characters and didn't and did not spare any special effects or deliver a marvelous cinematic adventure.
Man of Steel
The 2013 blockbuster took almost five years of development before being released onto the big screen. It had a budget of $225 million and proved that Clark Kent is timeless. It's a great movie that is fun to watch; however, it's not considered the best one.
Henry Cavill stepped into the big shoes of Superman, and Kevin Costner played the role of Clark's adoptive father. Russell Crow is Jor EL, and Ayelet Zurer plays Lara. The movie grossed almost $700 million, which turned it into the highest-grossing Superman movie ever and the second-highest reboot. The net profit was a little over $40 million.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" was the first in the Star Wars anthology series and a continuation to "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, " released in 1977. The technology used almost four decades later escalates the movie and turns it into a new favorite of Star Wars fans.
It introduced an outstanding list of talents, such as Diego Luna and Felicity Jones, and sprinkled the plot with unique and impressive special effects. The movie grossed over $1 billion worldwide and left a net profit of $320 million. This is more than enough to invest in a few more movies to complete the series.
In 2003, when "Maleficent" was first thought of, it was initially supposed to be an animation film. In 2006, it was decided that it would be a live-action product. It brought a new and innovative version of the classic "Sleeping Beauty" story, focusing on the evil villain, Maleficent.
There was no better casting than Angelina Jolie, who played the leading role alongside Sharlto Copley and Sam Riley in supporting parts. There was a significant investment in costumes, unique special effects, and studds that were incomparable, and the overall cost of production escalated up to almost $200 million, of which $33 million was passed on to Jolie.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" was released in 2017 and was initially named "Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge." The movie tells the story of Jack Sparrow, played by Jonny Depp, who searched for the Trident of Poseidon. The movie's budget was around $200 million and included action sequences like never seen before.
The Pirates of the Caribbean series has become so successful that despite the mixed reviews, the movie still managed to make more than $800 million worldwide. Compared to the movie in the series, it didn't cost as much as first anticipated; however, it made more than others, which happened to cost just a little bit more.
Men in Black 3
"Men in Black 3" is the third movie in the Men in Black movie series. In this movie, too, Will Smith is yet again in the lead, going back in time to save his partner from losing his life. The chemistry and dynamic between the two characters are superb, like in all movies; the special effects, wrapped in great humor and a fun storyline, make this movie pure entertainment.
It cost just a little over $215 to make, and it earned $650 million worldwide. The critics were brutal and summed it up by saying that the movie was dull and low in content and praying it would be the final one. It wasn't, and "Men in Black 4" was on its way.
So, way before the "Terminator Salvation" video game was introduced, there was a movie. It was released in 2009 and featured the fourth installment of the Terminator movie series. "Terminator Salvation" is the first one not to feature Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christian Bale was cast in the main role.
The movie focuses on the batter between Skynet's machine networks and humanity. The production used in-camera effects to make the movie as realistic as possible, and many of the settings were handmade. It cost $200 million and managed to earn $13.3 million on its first day, with an additional $42 million the following week.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
If you are a fantasy lover, we are sure you are familiar with The Hobbit trilogy. "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" is the second in the series. Peter Jackson's adaptation of the magnificent creation by J.R.R. Tolkien transforms the audience into a land of dwarves, dragons, and elves.
The visual effects in this movie took the larger portion of the $225 million budget, which made an astonishing $209 million just in the opening week. The cast included Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, who played the fearsome Smaug, who together turned a fantasy masterpiece into one of the most expensive movies in their category.
Quantum of Solace
Another 007 movie that ranks high on our list of movies that cost an absolute fortune. "Quantum of Solace" was released in 2008, directed by Marc Forster, and featured Daniel Craig in yet another remarkable performance. The movie's budget was around $200 million, making worldwide an eye-popping $589 million.
The reviews were not all that positive; however, one must never forget that the producers were rushed into making the movie. At the time, the threat of a SAG strike hovered constantly, so compromises had to be made. In addition, "Quantum of Solace" came out two years after "Casino Royale," which was a huge hit, and there was no chance of overtaking that.
The movie "Troy" brings history onto our screen and portrays the battle of Troy and Sparta. Now, there is no doubt that most of the movie is pure imagination; however, the foundations of this story are, in fact, all true. It cost around $175 million to make the movie and rolled in $45.6 million just in the first week.
We are not sure the movie delivered everything it delivered; however, when it involves Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, and Orlando Bloom, who cares? The movie manages to crack the harsh bitterness of war and coat the plot with a lovely story of honor, friendship, and recognition.
Oz the Great and Powerful
As revealed in its name, the movie "Oz the Great and Powerful" is based on the lovely Oz Novels written by L. Frank Baum in the early 1900s. This 2013 modern version was inspired by the 1939 classic that every child knows and tells the story of Oscar Diggs, played by James Franco. The movie cost $215 million but managed to earn a little more than double.
This is not considered a great success, and it is thought that the main reason was the expectation. Audiences worldwide expected to see a modern adaptation of the original story, giving the younger generation a chance to appreciate the tale; however, this proves that sometimes, things are better left alone and preserved in their original package.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
In "The Chronicle of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," Andrew Adamson takes audiences yet again on a fantasy adventure that is based on the original 1950 tale, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." It was unsurprisingly a huge hit, grossing over $745 million, with a budget of 180 million big ones. It is thought that the Narnia stories are not well adapted into movies.
Unlike the Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings franchise, Narnia has complex details and was written out of chronological order. The Narnia movies were initially intended for late-teen to adult audiences. "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" attracted children under the age of 14, which is probably another reason for its failure.
No Time to Die
"No Time to Die" is the 25th James Bond movie, released in 2021 as part of the 60th anniversary of the first Bond movie. The movie featured Daniel Craig in his fifth and last appearance as the charming 007 spy. The movie brought first-class action and studds and included a remarkable cast.
Rami Malek and Léa Seydoux are only two of the names. Some say "No Time to Die" is one of the best Bond movies. "No Time to Die" made over $800 million, so with a budget of $180 million, Daniel Craig and Eon Productions had a lot of profit left to spend between them.
In 2011, Pixar took Lightning McQueen and Mater on a very expensive journey. It cost $200 million; however, the final result was astonishing, so it was worth every penny. McQueen and Mater travel the world to compete in the Grand Prix, which will determine who is the fastest car in the world.
Most of the movie's budget was spent on bringing to life animated international race locations and an unforgettable list of characters. Although the movie is a Pixar animation, it is full of violent scenes and is way too long for any kid under seven to appreciate. Maybe this is the reason for the cold reviews.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is a sequel to "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which came out in 2011, three years before. It has been named a terrific science fiction movie, and the special effects manage to turn the storyline as realistic as possible. With a budget of $170 million, the movie is ranked as one of the most expensive ones to produce in this category.
The cast of the Apes consisted of Andy Serkis, who played Caesar, Tobby Kabble as Koba, and Judy Greer, who played Cornelia remarkably. As for the humans, Jason Clarke played Malcom, and Gary Oldman was Dreyfus. One of the reasons the film was so successful was because it managed to bring sympathy to the Apes and anthropomorphize them.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
In 1984, Hasbro produced a line of toys called Transformers. It was an instant hit and became the best-selling toy of all time. In 1986, the film "Transformers" movie came out, and from there, the road to success was paved. In 2007, the first live-action "Transformers" movie was released, making "Dark of the Moon" the third one.
It cost $195 million to create and grosses $1.1 billion, $382 million in the first week only. It was the second-highest-grossing movie released in 2011. The critics varied; however, it's impossible to ignore the astonishing visual effects the never-ending imagination used to create the piece.
Transformers: The Last Knight
"Transformers: The Last Knight" was released in 2017 and was the fifth movie in the series with a high budget of more than $217 million. It was directed by Michael Bay, who did not spare any special effects. The movie follows Optimus Prime who left planet Earth to find his creator in space.
Anthony Hopkins the Great played the role of Sir Edmund Burton, Mark Wahlberg was Cade Yeager, and when it came to voicing, Peter Cullen was Optimus Prime, and Frank Welker was Megatron. "The Last Knight" brought back the transformers into audience awareness and to be recognized as a high-budget blockbuster.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
"Transformer: Age of Extinction" is the fourth movie in the series. It was released in 2014 with a huge budget of $210 million. The movie presented a new chapter in the life of the Robots and was technically marvelous. Like previous movies in the series, this, too, was directed by Michael Bay; however, it doesn't star the human cast from the previous three movies.
It introduces a new line of human and robot characters (including the Dinobots), which could be the reason behind its cold reviews. The movie grossed about $850, which is pretty much what the other Transformers movies made.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Technically, "The Amazing Spider-Man" is the fourth Spiderman movie to come out, which followed Sam Raimi's trilogy, released between 2002 and 2007. It costs $230 to make and presents a fresh new angle to Peter Parker's story. The production felt it was time to start a new one, so it ended Tobey Maguire's role and cast Andrew Garfield to play the leading role.
Emma Stone supported Garfield by playing Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Infans played Dr. Curtis, the Lizzard. So even though "The Amazing Spider-Man" brought something new and fresher to the screen, it still preserved the Spider magic that lies in all superhero movies.
With a $140 budget, the 1998 successful "Armageddon" grasped more than $553 million at the box office, making this the most successful movie released that year. The movie featured Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, and Ben Affleck, so with names like that, no wonder it was such a success. It featured non-stop action and a soundtrack that became more popular than the movie itself.
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," performed by Aerosmith, was one of the greatest hits of that year, despite being part of the movie's soundtrack, so the incredible storyline came together with such a moving song, success was guaranteed.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is the fourth movie in the Indiana Jones movies. Besides Harrison Ford, the movie featured Shia LaBeouf and Cate Blanchett. It was released in 2008 and brought Ford again into the shows of Indi, this time against a KGB agent.
The critics were cruel, and the overall feeling was that the movie was a failure. It was said that the characters were tired and the special effects were lame; however, it still cost $185 to make. According to big Indiana Jones fans, "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is probably the most disliked out of them all.
The Dark Knight
"The Dark Night," released in 2008 and cost $185 million, is the second movie in the Batman trilogy, following the first movie, "Batman Begins" (2005), and later on (2012), "The Drak Night Rises. The late Heath Ledger, who played the role of the Joker and tragically passed away before the movie was even screened, gave an unforgettable performance.
If his life hadn't ended the way it did after giving such an act, he would have probably turned into an icon. The storyline was wonderful; the special effects were remarkable, so no wonder to some. "The Dark Knight" is presumably one of the best Batman movies out there.
Iron Man 3
"Iron Man 3" was aired for the first time in 2013. It is the third (and last) Iron Man movie and the seventh from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie cost $200 and made more than $1.2 billion worldwide. After the second movie was released in 2010, director Favreau said he was not going to continue to a third movie; however, there was no way to ignore the new script and the storyline behind it.
In the third Iron Man movie, Robert Downey Jr. played the almighty Ironman, Gwyneth Paltrow played Pepper Potts, and Don Cheadle slipped naturally into the role of James Rhodes. To some, this was a perfect sign of the Iron Man series, and others are still longing for more.
"Monsters University" is a 2013 computer-animated movie produced by Disney. It's a prequel to the successful "Monster, Inc.," released over a decade before then. Mike and Sulley are friends, and their relationship is explored during their wild college days.
The movie cost over $200 million; however, it was impossible to remain oblivious to the investment in top-of-the-range technology, which was innovative and remarkable. The talented voices behind these characters belong to Billy Crystal and John Goodman, who undoubtedly contributed to the movie's high success. "Monsters University" brought something innocent and pure to the screen and became one of the most expensive animated movies ever made.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is the 30th movie the Marvel Universe has ever released. The initial idea for a sequel to the 2018 "Black Panther" movie came literally moments after it was released. It took another two years before the movie's new title was released.
The budget was set for $200 million, and it ended up making almost $900 million globally. The movie paid tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who played T'Challa in the previous movie and passed away while still working on the movie. "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" was a stunning addition to the Marvel collection that forever rows and provides hours of pure escapism.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
The second movie of "Guardians of the Galaxy" was released in 2017 with a budget of $170 million. This is another superhero movie based on the Marvel comics, holding the same title. It was directed by James and written by Nicole Perlman who began working on the script in 2009, eight years before the movie was released.
Chris Pratt played the role of Star-Lord, Zoe Saldaña played Gamora, and together with Dave Bautista and many other talents, they provided the audience with a new and exciting piece, proving that Marvel has the ability to think outside of the box, take risks, and make, yet another, wonderful movie.
The Little Mermaid
Although we are all 1989 "Little Mermaid" fans, the 2023 version made the classic into a true gem. It had a budget of around $100 million and managed to take the audience under the deep waters and into the fascinating world of Ariel and her under-the-sea friends. The new real-life version preserved the original structure of the movie and kept it as a musical. The cast performance was praised by many; however, the overall film got the cold shoulder.
Halle Bailey played Ariel, and King Triton's role was given to Javier Bardem. The initial thought was to wipe the dust off the original animated version so that the new generation could enjoy it; however, something along the way got lost, and the magic wasn't as shiny as anticipated.
"Van Helsing" is an action horror movie released in 2004 and with a budget of $160 million. It was directed by Stephen Sommers, who is the name behind 'The Mummy, " "The Jungle Book," and many other great hits. "Van Helsing" is a tribute to Universal Classic Monsters films that came alive in the 30s and 40s of the past century.
Hugh Jackman played the lead and gained recognition for his performance. The special effects that highlighted the dark and gothic ambiance were unique and earned the movie's admiration among fans. The movie eventually earned more than $300 million, making it the highest-grossing movie at the time.
The Polar Express
You've got to love Christmas, and you've got to love Christmas films. The 2004 computer-animated Christman musical fantasy is based on a book with the same title. The display was dazzling, the technology was innovative for the time, and the overall outcome was as magical as the holiday itself.
It cost $165 million and made overall $314 million, including new releases that came later on. We suppose it doesn't take much to make people believe once again in Santa and Christmas, so in this case, we don't care about the budget; we're just happy that the Christmas spirit is alive.
Exodus: Gods and Kings
When you have a good biblical story, why don't you make a film out of it? The 2014 story of Moses and the Exodus of the Children of Israel was a promising title; however, it failed to bring the success director Ridley Scott aimed for. The visual effects were impressive, and the acting performance was phenomenal; however, it didn't manage to grasp the praise.
"Exodus: Gods and Kings" was banned in several countries due to "historical inaccuracies," as some claimed. It cost $140 to make the movie, and it made overall $268 million, so we can really consider this a success.
"WALL-E" is a computer-animated movie born out of yet another collaboration between Disney and Pixar. It was directed by Andrew Stanton, who created this masterpiece in 2008 with a whopping budget of $180 million. The movie tells the story of an adorable robot named WALL-E who lives on a deserted island set in 2805.
The effects were minimalistic, and the technology implemented into making the movie was modest; however, it still managed to be a huge success. In 2021, "WALL-E" became the second movie after "Toy Story" that Pixar selected to preserve in the National Film Registry in the U.S.A.
The "Toy Story" spin-off had an astonishing budget of $200 million and was ranked the third most expensive movie released in 2022 and the 48th movie most expensive movie of all time. Buzz Lightyear is the hero of the storyline; however, it does not take place at the same time "Toy Story" does. The movie made more than $226 million, leaving the production with plenty of loot to go around.
When it comes to the people behind the voices, Chris Evans voiced the main role of Buzz Lightyear. They decided to dismiss the original voice of Buzz, Tim Allen, as they felt it would strongly link the movie to "Toy Story," which they wanted to avoid.
The Gray Man
Anthony Russo and Joseph Russo directed the 2022 Netflix release of the movie "The Gray Man." This is a superb thriller action movie based on a novel of the same name. Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas are just a few of the names that star in the movie, making it a promise before it was even watched.
The budget was $200 million, and it globally earned more than 454 million big ones. The streaming movie has become one of the best ones that Netflix has ever released, giving a fight to Disney, Pixar, and other superhero titles.
The Last Duel
"The Last Duel" was released in 2021. It had a budget of $100 million, and although it didn't make too many headlines in its theatrical release, from a director's point of view, it became a successful blockbuster. Taking place in medieval France, the fine details of the astonishing performance led by Matt Damon and Adam Driver turn this movie into a masterpiece.
Ben Affleck and Jodie Comer contributed his talent to the cast list and contributed to the success and glam this title earned. Overall, the movie made more than $560 million. After its release, Ridley Scott, who directed the movie, said that the movie wasn't as successful as anticipated and blamed the millennial generation. He said that the new generation is glued to their cell phones, not spending their life surrounded by culture. We tend to agree.
Walt Disney animated studios created Encanto in 2021, creating another entry to the most expensive movies ever made. Lin-Manuel Miranda was responsible for the songs in the movie, which needed at least $300 to break even, and managed to make just a little over $161 million.
Most of the movies on this list cost a lot of money and eventually made a lot of money; however, many titles, like "Encanto," cost a lot due to complex technology and never-ending marketing expenses and end up barely paying for the voices behind the characters. The critics agree that the animation was remarkable, and the story was breathtaking; however, on days like this, maybe it takes a little more to make it big.
Godzilla Vs. Kong
The 2021 monster movie is a sequel to "Kong: Skull Island," which came out in 2017, and "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," released in 2019. It is also the fourth movie in the MonsterVerse franchise. Following the world pandemic, the movie, which was supposed to be released in 2020, was postponed and eventually came out a year later.
Its initial budget was $155 million; however, it increased (yet a gain following the pandemic) and reached an astonishing $200 million. When it comes to the box office, it made more than $470 million, making it one of that year's most successful movies (moneywise).
Top Gun: Maverick
If you were around in the late 1980s, like us, you couldn't get enough of Maverick and Goose. Fast forward four decades, and in 2022, the "Top Gun: Maverick" hit the screens with an astonishing budget of $177 million. We are not sure if the movie would have succeeded just as much if it wasn't linked the way it was to the original 'Top Gun" movie; however, it made more than 1.4 billion big ones.
Out of those $1.4 billion, $100 million was diverted directly into Tom Cruise's bank account. Unsurprisingly, the movie turned into a Hollywood blockbuster in every way. Great sequel!