- James Cameron's 2009 science fiction hit cost USD 470 million to make. Most of the budget went to special effects and 3D movie tech.
- Johnny Depp reportedly took a $55 million paycheck for Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides
- Around $40 million of the Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens' $306 million budget went to paying veteran Star Wars actors Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford.
Hollywood movie-making is big business. It involves million-dollar paychecks for the actors, a few more millions for set-design and animation, and even more for other production expenses. A few minutes of explosions on-screen took many weeks to make and millions of dollars to produce. Production even gets more expensive for movies with multiple locations since this involves flying all the actors and the entire crew abroad and spending more to set-up shop in a foreign location.
Big Hollywood execs and producers often pour hundreds of millions onto a mega-movie expecting it to rake more money once it hits the big screen. While most of these big-ticket flicks earned billions worldwide others tanked at the box office.
Here are ten of the most expensive movies to film in history thus far.
10. Avatar (USD 470 million)
James Cameron’s 2009 epic science fiction hit took almost half a billion dollars to make. They reportedly spent more than a hundred million for marketing alone, but most of the expenses ballooned because of high-tech 3D filming technology they used and the advanced graphics. It more than made up for the expensive production though, since it earned almost $3 billion dollars in box office sales worldwide.
9. Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (USD 440 million)
This 2011 film reportedly cost a whopping 440 million dollars to make. The movie’s biggest star, Johnny Depp, reportedly took a $55 million paycheck to relinquish the role of bearded, drunk, pirate with unruly dreads everyone loved to watch. The movie made a little over a billion dollars in the box office.
8. Avengers End Game (USD 356 million)
The Avengers franchise wanted to go out with a big bang and so they did by spending $356 million, even more, if you count the paychecks of all the big Hollywood stars in the movie. For the production company, it was worth it though since it turned out to be the second-highest-grossing US film ever after earning more than $2 billion in the box office.
7. Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End (USD 348 million)
The big Pirates movie of 2007 was the most expensive film to produce that year. Production involved shooting in various locations, flying, and moving the entire cast and crew to multiple places which incurred them millions in logistics and other expenses. Not to mention the special effects and their stars’ paychecks. It earned a little over a billion dollars in the box office.
6. Avengers Age of Ultron (USD 340 million)
While there haven’t been any official reports about this movie’s production budget sources say it cost around $340 to $380 million to make. Gross estimates put it at around $400 million. Considering the number of big-ticket actors in the movie who may have each taken a few million dollars each, these figures shouldn’t be surprising. The movie made almost 1.5 billion dollars after it’s International release.
5. Avengers: Infinity War (USD 321 million)
The 2018 Avengers movie cost $321 million to make according to company documents, that amount ate up 5.4% of Disney’s budget for Studio Entertainment. Aside from their stars’ paychecks most of it was spent on hiring visual effects companies, stage design, and payment for staff. The movie made a little over $2 billion in the box office.
4. Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens (USD 306 million)
Some reports say the Intergalactic movie took a few million more dollars to make, around $314 million to be exact according to USA Today. Around $40 million went to paying veteran Star Wars casts --Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford. Other reports say the company spent $30 to $50 million on advertising. The movie made over $2 billion dollars worldwide.
3. Justice League (USD 300 million)
This action-packed DC flick that was the company’s answer to Avengers cost around $300 million to make. A big chunk of it was reportedly spent on reshoots, around $30 million dollars was used for special effects, and another $150 million dollars was spent on marketing. Despite expectations, the movie only made a little over $600 million in the box office.
2. Spectre (USD 240 million)
This 2015 James Bond film reportedly cost around $240 to $300 million to make. Not a lot of effects there but they had to destroy many expensive cars, and spend more money on making things blow up James Bond style. They also reportedly spent around a hundred million dollars on marketing and promotion alone. The movie made almost $900 million worldwide or around $870 million to be exact.
1. Spiderman 3 (USD 250 million)
The movie reportedly spent around 250 to 300 million dollars for production and other expenses, 15% to 25% of which was spent on marketing. After being released on regular cinemas and IMAX in 2007 the movie earned $891 million in the box office and went on to become the third highest-grossing film that year.