Hollywood is known to make big budgeted films with heavy productions and star studded casts. Many of the films actual production costs are hard to determine because Hollywood accounting is done secretively and it is something considered not to be a matter of public record. But some of the films have been known to cost a certain amount as admitted by someone on crew of that particular film.
In this list are the ten most expensive films ever made by Hollywood that cost more than $200 million according to reports in the media. Here the cost at the time of production has been cited and they have not been adjusted for inflation. If adjusted for inflation, then the most expensive film ever made is Cleopatra (1963) which when made cost $44 million, but today that would mean $320 million, which is $2 million more than the most expensive film on this list.
10. The Avengers (2012) – $220 Million
Also at times referred to as Marvel’s The Avengers, this superhero film was produced by Marvel Studios with distribution from the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. This is the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was scripted and directed by Joss Whedon and stars an ensemble cast of Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson. The film shows the director of the peacekeeping organisation S.H.I.E.L.D. recruiting Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to salvage the world. The film was converted into 3D format in post-production. The film opened on April 11, 2012 and received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. It is the fastest film to gross $1 billion at the box office and eventually earned $1.51 billion across the globe. A sequel to the film is expected in 2015.
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – $225 Million
It is an adventure fantasy film directly by Gore Verbinski and stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris, Jack Davenport, and Tom Hollander. It is the second film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The filming took place at five different locations as well as at Walt Disney Studios. Alongside making this second film, parts of the third film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, were also made simultaneously. The budget of the film was $225 million, but the audiences liked the film and it earned $136 million on its opening weekend. It eventually grossed over $1 billion internationally despite getting mixed reviews from the critics. The film received four Academy Awards nominations for Best Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects, the latter of which it won.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) – $225 Million
It is an epic fantasy film based on C. S. Lewis’s fourth novel in the series of The Chronicles of Narnia. This is the second film based on it, the first being The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). The film stars Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Liam Neeson, Sergio Castellitto, and Peter Dinklage. It has been directed by Andrew Adamson who also produced it and did its screenplay along with other producers and screenplay writers. The total budget of the film was $225 million, but was not as successful as the filmmakers would have wanted. It earned $419 million at the box office, but received good reviews from critics. It received many awards nominations, but did not win many. To cut on the cost of production, the film was mostly shot in Central Europe and the post-production was done in the UK due to tax relaxation.
7. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $230 Million
This superhero film was directed and co-written by Christopher Nolan along with his brother Jonathan Nolan. This is also the final installment of the Batman film series by Nolan. Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne, the Batman, along with the cast that includes Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and the character of Selina Kyle is introduced, played by Anne Hathaway. The film was shot at several locations, including Jodhpur, London, Nottingham, Glasgow, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, and Pittsburgh. The IMAX cameras were used for filming to optimise the quality of the picture. The film was marketed through viral campaigns for promotion and websites were made to increase exposure. The film was received well by critics and movie fans and the film earned $1.081 billion through its worldwide release.
6. Avatar (2009) – $237 Million
It is an epic science fiction motion capture film that stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi and Sigourney Weaver. It has been directed, written and produced by James Cameron. Jon Landau also produced it. The officially announced budget of the film is $237 million, but there are other unofficial estimates which say that it could even be between $280 million to $310 million. On top of it, there are $150 million for promotion of the film. Although with the huge success of the film both commercially and critically, all that cost has been returned favourably with the film becoming one of the highest grossing films in history. In total it earned a record $2 billion at the box office. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction. The film trilogy has been planned with two sequels that will be made.
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – $250 Million
It is fantasy film based on the Harry Potter novel series by J. K. Rowling and is the sixth film in the installment in its film series. It has been directed by David Yates with a screenplay written by Steve Kloves. David Heyman and David Barron were the two producers. It stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. The film was critically praised and commercially successful. Its budget was $250 million, but earned $394 million within five days of its international released making a new record. In total it earned $934 million and became one of the highest grossing films of all times. The film was nominated for many awards including Academy Award for Best Cinematography. It is still the most positively reviewed and highest earning Harry Potter film in the series.
4. John Carter (2012) – $250 Million
This is a science-fiction adventure film directed by Andrew Stanton and is based on the book, “A Princess of Mars”, which is the first book in the Barsoom series of novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Taylor Kitsch plays the role of the lead character, John Carter, along with an ensemble cast of Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Thomas Haden Church, Dominic West, James Purefoy, and Willem Dafoe. The film centres around such themes as exploration of extraterrestrial life, science fiction and civil war. The film was released in regular 2D as well as Disney Digital 3D, along with IMAX 3D formats. The film was received with mixed reviews from critics and couldn’t perform well at the American box office, but got success in overseas theatres, in particular in Russia, where the film made box office records. However, due to its lack of any worth in critic’s point of view, the film is considered to be a complete failure, for its costly production. The film needed to reach $600 million to be profitable, but that much success has been received only by 63 films to date in the history of movie-making.
3. Spider-Man 3 (2007) – $258 Million
It is a superhero film starring Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, Kristen Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard and James Cromwell. It has been written and directed by Sam Raimi and is based on the Spider-Man comic book series. It is the third installment in the Spider-Man movie series. The screenplay is by Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent. Its budget was $258 million and got a considerable return by earning around $890 million internationally. Though the film got mixed reviews from critics, but the fans seem to appreciate it. It became the highest grossing film for Sony Pictures Entertainment and also the most successful film commercially in the series. Though Spider-Man 4 was in development since 2007, but it was cancelled in 2010 due to Raimi’s dissatisfaction with strength of the script. The Amazing Spider-Man, which is not its sequel, was released in 2012 with Andrew Garfield playing the lead role.
2. Tangled (2010) – $260 Million
It is computer-animated musical fantasy-comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Its voice cast includes Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy. It is somewhat based on the German fairy tale of Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm and was supposed to be entitled the same, but the title was changed just before release. It took six years to be made and had cost $260 million, but with its success with critics and audiences around the world, it managed to earn $590 million at the box office internationally. As of now it is the most expensive animated film ever made and the second most expensive film in history. It received many nominations including Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for “I See the Light”.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – $300 Million
It is an adventure fantasy film and is third in the film installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. A lot of the cast is the same. It was shot in production with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which is the second film in the series. Its budget is said to be $300 million and makes it the most expensive film ever made. It received mixed reaction from critics, but as is often the case with big blockbuster production, fans were impressed and it made $960 million internationally making it one of the most successful films. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Make up and Best Visual Effects. The fourth film in the series, On Stranger Tides, was released this year and had been a huge commercial success.