15. (tie) ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ (2018)
Budget: $280 million
Box Office: $393.2 million
It should come as no surprise that Disney is one of the biggest spenders in Hollywood, but what may be a shocker is that the second “Star Wars” standalone film is the only “Star Wars” movie to make the list. All other franchise entries cost less than “Solo”’s $280 million.
15. (tie) ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ (2016)
Budget: $280 million
Box Office: $873.6 million
Even with an abysmal 28 per cent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice” proves that poor reviews don’t always mean poor box office results, thanks in part to a massive chunk of its budget – rumoured to be $165 million – on marketing costs alone.
14. ‘Avatar’ (2009)
20th Century Fox
Budget: $282 million
Box Office: $2.79 billion
“Avatar” held the title of highest-grossing movie of all time for a full decade before “Avengers: Endgame” came along. Despite its state-of-the-art 3D technology, James Cameron’s “Avatar” wasn’t even the most expensive movie of 2009. Now, with Cameron filming four “Avatar” sequels back to back for an estimated shared $1 billion, expect more of the blue Na'vi to make their way onto this list.
13. ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’ (2006)
Budget: $285 million
Box Office: $1.06 billion
The second entry in the “Pirates” franchise broke several box office records, including becoming the fastest film to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, an accomplishment it achieved in 63 days. Most of the film’s large budget went towards marketing and visual effects, eventually winning an Oscar for Industrial Light & Magic’s work on the film.
12. ‘Waterworld’ (1995)
Budget: $289 million
Box Office: $264.2 million
Set in a future world where the polar ice caps have melted and submerging every continent underwater, “Waterworld” was unable to recoup its massive budget at the box office, leading it to be dubbed a failure along with its mixed reviews. The film was hampered by a number of filming delays, runaway production costs, and clashes between star Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds (who actually quit before filming was complete), which saw its initial $100-million budget balloon to over $235 million in 1995, including marketing costs.
11. ‘John Carter’ (2012)
Budget: $294 million
Box Office: $284 million
Between its production and marketing budgets, “John Carter” is one of the most expensive movies ever made…and one of the biggest box office bombs. The film suffered from inexperienced execs, including a Disney chairman with no film production experience and director Andrew Stanton, who was better known as an animator and writer-director of “WALL-E” and “Finding Nemo”. Most of the film’s scenes were filmed again in reshoots, driving up the budget. The Taylor Kitsch film was such a flop, Disney’s planned trilogy of films was scrapped.
10. ‘Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince’ (2009)
Budget: $298 million
Box Office: $934.3 million
The most expensive film in the “Harry Potter” franchise, “Half Blood Prince” drove Muggles to cinemas and broke a number of box office records. Despite the massive box office bucks, the movie is still just the fifth highest-grossing in the Wizarding World franchise.
9. ‘Tangled’ (2010)
Budget: $305 million
Box Office: $592.4 million
Disney’s Rapunzel story “Tangled” is the most expensive animated movie of all time, costing even more than the 2019 live-action animated “Lion King”.
8. ‘Justice League’ (2017)
Budget: $313 million
Box Office: $657.9 million
Henry Cavill’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” moustache reportedly cost “Justice League” $3 million. With two months of expensive reshoots scheduled to take place, Cavill had grown a sweet ‘stache for “Fallout”. Unfortunately, the actor was contracted to keep the moustache so his Superman reshoots required additional CGI editing to remove his upper lip hair because everyone knows Clark Kent can’t grow a moustache.
7. ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007)
Budget: $318 million
Box Office: $895 million
At the time of its release, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” was the most expensive movie ever made, with most of its budget going toward innovative visual effects.
6. ‘Titanic’ (1997)
Budget: $319 million
Box Office: $2.19 billion
Nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards, “Titanic” was the first film to gross more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office. The movie’s exorbitant 1997 budget roughly amounted to $1 million per minute of screen time. Nervous about the ballooning budget, studio execs argued that cutting some of the film’s run time would drive up profits because they’d be able to offer more screenings of the same film print in cinemas, which James Cameron refused. The Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet epic was also the highest-grossing movie of all time until Cameron’s next film, “Avatar”, came along.
5. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018)
Budget: $322 million
Box Office: $2.04 billion
Oh, snap! The highest-grossing film of 2018 may have come with a hefty price tag, but “Infinity War” was also the first time a superhero movie crossed the $2 billion mark at the box office.
4. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019)
Budget: $356 million
Box Office: $2.79 billion
And just like that, “Infinity War”’s records were shattered with an even bigger and more expensive production, but also way more box office bucks – “Endgame” surpassed “Infinity War”’s entire theatrical earnings in just 11 days. Location shooting and cast earnings drove up the film’s overall production cost, but Disney has the receipts to prove it was worth every penny.
3. ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End’ (2007)
Budget: $370 million
Box Office: $961 million
A huge soundstage that included a massive water tank and over 40 set pieces ate up a lot of the movie’s budget. Though the movie received mixed reviews from critics, it still went on to become 2007’s biggest moneymaker.
2. ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ (2015)
Budget: $394 million
Box Office: $1.4 billion
The second-most-expensive movie ever made, “Age Of Ultron” kicked off Phase 2 of the MCU with its huge ensemble production, which included filming locations around the world and over 3000 visual effects shots.
1. ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ (2011)
Budget: $430 million
Box Office: $1.04 billion
Johnny Depp’s hefty $55-million price tag, a fast-tracked production timeline, 3D filming costs, a massive crew of nearly 900 people, and visual effects drove up the cost of the fourth “Pirates” instalment. Costing over $35 million more than “Age Of Ultron”, “On Stranger Tides” will remain captain of the most expensive productions for a long time.