Movies continue to thrive in the entertainment industry. Despite the fact that Netflix and other streaming services are dominating the cable market, they haven’t taken too much away from the movie theaters. At the end of the day, people still want to see a blockbuster film on the big screen, the way it was meant to be seen. Certain movies just don’t translate well from an IMAX sized screen to a 42 inch flat screen.
Movies that are specifically made for the big screen tend to have the most astronomical budgets. Chances are, you have seen at least half of the movies on this list in theaters, since most of them were also the biggest money-making movies of all-time. There is one certain Disney flop on this list, but other than that, there is home run after home run in the top 10.
Most of biggest budgets ever thrown into a movie are very recent. If the oldest movie on this list was an actual person, they would barely be old enough to start school. Movie budgets will continue to grow, so this list will most likely change in the future. For now, which 10 movies spent the most money to shoot? Here are the 10 most expensive movies ever made.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($310 Million)
Much like “Spiderman 3”, “At World’s End” was the highly anticipated third movie in a massively successful franchise. And much like “Spiderman 3”, we were all a little disappointed. Less than half of movie critics gave “At World’s End” a positive review, as it felt like there was too much missing from the original.
You didn’t even see Jack Sparrow until halfway through the movie, which was about 3 hours long. Even with inflation adjusted, “At World’s End” is the most expensive film ever made. Luckily for Disney, they still made money off the ordeal with a global box office figure of $936 million. Disney realized it was Sparrow that people wanted to see and gave him his own movie to follow this one up, after dropping Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom.
2. Spiderman 3 ($260 Million)
We never got a Spiderman full length movie worth mentioning until “Spiderman” with Toby Maguire. It was a solid foundation for the webslinger’s story, and the sequel, “Spiderman 2”, naturally, was great. So how excited was everyone for the third installment, one that featured Venom? Probably a bit too excited.
The only way to describe the reaction to “Spiderman 3” would be initial denial. “Yeah, that was pretty good,” said a lot of people coming out of the theatre. Then on the drive home they suddenly remembered Peter Parker spinning around and pointing at people with his hair dyed black and thought, “Dear God, that was stupid.” The excitement was enough to get the money from the audience, as it pulled in $890 million worldwide to create an enormous profit.
3. Tangled ($258 Million)
Disney princesses have made a furious comeback as of late, and the revolution started with “Tangled” in 2010. We haven’t seen much of Mandy Moore in recent years, but she voiced Rapunzel in the film and people suddenly remembered 1999. Not only did people like the movie (90 percent positive reviews), but it made a decent sum of money. The $200 million gross in the United States was a bit of a disappointment, but worldwide it made almost $600 million.
The success of this movie would open up the door for the infectious “Frozen” in late 2013. With 2015 right at the door, kids are still singing the songs from “Frozen”, while there are a few stragglers singing songs from “Tangled”. I guess it’s obvious which one kids liked more between the two.
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($250 Million)
There are a total of eight Harry Potter films in the series, but it was “The Half Blood Prince” that ended up being the most expensive. This was due in large part to the final film being split into two, which lowered the production budget a little bit. “The Half Blood Prince” is the sixth movie in the series, and it raked in over $930 million worldwide.
The reviews on the film were solid, with one critic going as far as saying that it was “emotionally satisfying”. That seems like a very odd thing to say about a Harry Potter movie, but to each his own. It’s strange to see just one Harry Potter movie on this list, but this is it, the most “emotionally satisfying” of all.
5. John Carter ($250 Million)
“John Carter of Mars” was supposed to be an animated film released by Disney in the 1930’s, but it never got a full feature release. Instead, Disney opted to wait nearly 70 years to finally release a live action version of the film. Perhaps they should have waited 70 more years. By this point, nobody remembered the original story, so it was lost on moviegoers.
Despite a massive budget, “John Carter” was an enormous flop in the United States. It raked in only $73 million in the US and managed to almost break even thanks to $211 million across the other countries of the world. Disney won’t want to take that chance again, so you can expect them not to make a sequel.
6. Avatar ($240 Million)
“Avatar” was the biggest financial success in the movie history and it made director James Cameron a star. Wait a minute, he’s the guy who directed “Titanic”, so you already knew who he was. So Cameron is responsible for the two highest grossing movies of all-time.
“Avatar” was essentially “Fern Gully” with 10 years worth of special effects and blue people. That didn’t stop people from coming out in droves to see the movie, as it collected $2.78 billion worldwide to top “Titanic”. It was still a well received movie by critics despite the cringeworthy name of “Unobtanium” that humans were seeking out on the planet Pandora.
7. The Dark Knight Rises ($230 Million)
Everyone was stoked for the conclusion of the Batman trilogy after “Batman Begins” was a surprisingly good reboot (despite some super nerds grunting about Christian Bale being Bruce Wayne.) The second film of the series was the mega popular “Dark Knight”, which gave us an awesome performance by Heath Ledger as “The Joker”. He was certainly missed in the third film.
Instead, we got Tom Hardy as the villain “Bane” in “The Dark Knight Rises”. Tom Hardy is a good actor, but Bane is supposed to be about 8’0” and 700 pounds of solid muscle. Also, we don’t recall Bane speaking like Paul Bearer from the old days of the WWF. Batman’s voice was already strange, so when the two interacted it turned into a comedy. Still, the movie was a financial success.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($225 Million)
Just like many of the movies on this list, “Prince Caspian” is a sequel. If you have dabbled in literature for even 10 minutes, you would know that “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” was the first in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. The original was not quite a massive critical success (the movie, not the book) but made enough money to warrant a sequel to finish the tale.
Reviews for “Prince Caspian” were even weaker than the original Narnia flick and the budget was perhaps too large for this film. It pulled in $420 million worldwide, but only $141 million in the United States, well below expectations. Video games were also made for these movies and they were just terrible.
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($225 Million)
The first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was “Curse of the Black Pearl”. It had a big budget of its own, and was a massive hit. Disney realized that if they spent more money on the sequel, they could make even more money in return, so that’s exactly what they did. All of the characters were brought back, including the popular Jack Sparrow.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” became the fastest movie in history to reach $1 billion worldwide at the box office, despite the premise of nasty octopus men (that made kids squirm in theatres.) It also explained exactly what Davy Jones’s locker was, since a lot of us didn’t know. The success of this film would spawn yet another sequel (because that’s Hollywood for ya) which we will see a little later in the countdown.
10. Man of Steel ($220 Million)
Superman got a reboot in 2006 in the form of “Superman Returns”. Apparently Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey didn’t quite have the star power to keep that franchise going, so they shut it all down and restarted it in 2013 with “Man of Steel”. Instead of getting a recognizable actor, the producers did the same thing as the 2006 film and hired Henry Cavill to play the Man of Steel, making people wonder why they even bothered with a reboot.
The reviews were mixed and fans of the Superman franchise were not as pleased with this one as the original that had General Zod, “Superman II”. At least “Man of Steel” had a better title than “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”. This film raked in about $670 worldwide, so it was still a success. The next Superman venture will go against Batman in 2015.