The 12 Most Expensive Movies Ever Made
As people’s demand for bigger and better action movies on the big screen intensifies, so have the budgets of films increased. While indie flicks and low-budget movies are still being made, and often winning awards, it’s the CGI-filled action blockbusters that drive audiences to the cinema and top the box office. This has led to many of the big studios investing hundreds of millions in some of the most expensive movies ever made. But just because a movie cost $300+ million to make doesn’t mean it will turn out good.
Many movies with huge budgets have been critically savaged. Sometimes the fans even turn on their favorite directors or actors and take to the internet to let everyone know how bad the film is. Negative review bombing on movie sites such as Rotton Tomatoes and IMDB is the norm these days.
Thankfully most of the movies on this list are actually enjoyable and warrant the huge budget afforded to them. While movies such as Battleship and The Adventures of Pluto Nash failed to recoup their budgets, they are few and far between.
As you will discover, the majority of the most expensive and best movies ever made are superhero movies, part of the Star Wars franchise, or one of the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks. While the likes of the Harry Potter franchise (sorry Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson) and dinosaur movie Jurrasic World might have big budgets, they don’t compare to the films on this list. These blockbuster epics not only cost an arm and a leg but have entertained film lovers worldwide and made millions of dollars in ticket sales.
Due to the inflation, some of these films might have originally had smaller budgets, but if made today would cost exponentially more. We’ve used the adjusted budgets when listing these movies. So sit back and enjoy this look at the 12 most expensive movies of all time.
The 12 Most Expensive Movies Ever Made
12. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – $295.2 Million
The second film in the Skywalker trilogy is easily the best of the three. Written and directed by Rain Johson, whose filmography is impeccable, Star Wars: The Last Jedi wowed audiences and restored their faith in the Star Wars franchise. It was the highest-grossing film of 2017 and the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time during its theatrical run, proving how big the film was at the time of its release.
The movie features a cavalcade of Star Wars characters, with old favorites General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) joined by new characters Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie ).
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a fantastic film from Walt Disney Pictures that pleased Star Wars fans along with general moviegoers and remains the best of the new Star Wars film released thus far.
11. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – $302.8 Million
Before he totally destroyed the DC Universe with Justice League, Zack Snyder gave it a fair crack with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film, as the title suggests, pits Batman (Ben Affleck) against Superman (Henry Cavill) in the ultimate superhero duel.
What should have been an incredible next chapter in the Superman and Batman rivalry is a bloated, boring, and overly long movie that makes you never want to see another superhero film again. While Cavill is great as Superman, Affleck as Batman is hard to take, especially after the masterful performance of Christian Bale. Even Robert Pattinson’s interpretation of the Dark Knight is 100% better than Affleck’s.
Critics panned the movie and fans turned their back on the DC Universe. Jessie Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor was particularly savaged, with the actor lambasted for his poor Heath Ledge-inspired take on the classic villain.
10. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – $304 Million
The second Star Wars film to feature on this list is also one of the most disappointing. The concluding chapter of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, this movie is an utter mess from start to finish. While J. J. Abrams tries his best to put his own creative spin on the universe, the results are less than favorable.
Both critics and fans trashed the movie upon release, although it still made over $1 billion at the box office. The film was “reviewed bombed” by irritated fans and ended up being a sad end to the popular franchise. The fact that it cost almost $300 million to make and holds the mantle of the lowest-grossing film in the trilogy demonstrates how fans were turned off by this expensive feature film.
9. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – $304 Million
This movie is a disaster. In an attempt to expand the Star Wars universe, Disney and director Ron Howard tried their best to tell an original story about everyone’s favorite scoundrel, Han Solo. Unfortunately, the result is a horrible mess of a movie that has few redeemable features.
Alden Ehrenreich tries hard but he’s no Harrison Ford, while Woody Harrelson and Emila Clarke are serviceable without impressing. It doesn’t help that the script is weak and original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired during principal photography. The one shining light is Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, who is an absolute superstar.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is the most expensive film in the Star Wars franchise and also one of the least successful. Due to its poor performance, Disney put all future anthology films on the back burner.
8. John Carter (2012) – $327.3 Million
This is the film that should have cemented Taylor Kitsch as one of the great modern-day actors. Instead, it cursed his career and put an end to any more John Carter movies being made. Based on the series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the movie focuses on former American Civil War Confederate Army captain John Carter.
Finding himself transported to an alien planet where he can jump high thanks to the low gravity of the planet, Carter gets involved in the local war and falls in love.
John Carter became one of the biggest box office failures in recent history, with Disney reportedly losing around $200 million thanks to the film’s poor reviews. It was during the first few weeks of the film being out that Disney canceled all the planned sequels after a lackluster showing a the box office.
7. Justice League (2017) – $338 Million
Before he messed around with the four-hour Director’s Cut, Zack Snyder’s Justice League had a huge opening but still failed to make back its money. The Warner Bros movie cost $338 million to make and is Snyder’s take on the DC supergroup that contains Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). After the death of Superman, the Justice League must come together to take down the evil Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his army of Parademons.
This is a big-budget superhero movie that went through strained post-production when Snyder stepped away after the tragic death of his daughter. Joss Whedon took over and rewrote the script extensively and shot more footage, changing the tone of the film. Despite all this, Justice League did well at the box office, although critics didn’t think too much of the movie. Most people prefer the Zach Snyder cut that was released in 2021 to this original, but it is not considered canon by Warner Bros and DC.
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6. Tangled (2010) – $338.6 Million
The only animated movie to make it onto this list, Tangled cost a fortune to make. The movie is based on the classic fairy tale Rapunzel about a blonde-haired princess trapped in a tower. With the aid of the thief Flynn Rider, she manages to escape the tower and see the world.
Tangled was a box office smash and loved by critics and fans alike. The storyline is compelling, the animation fantastic, and the jokes, aimed at both children and adults, are hilarious. The voiceover cast is also fantastic, with Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Brad Garrett, Ron Pearlman, Richard Kiel, and M. C. Gainey all making their presence felt.
The movie was so popular several video games were made about it while it also won an Academy Award for Best Song Written For Visual Media (I See the Light).
5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – $359.3 Million
The third of four Avengers movies is another exciting superhero movie that was a box office smash. Once again all the major heroes make their presence felt, with Avengers: Infinity War introducing the Guardians of the Galaxy into the Avengers world. It’s also the first time T’Challa, aka Black Panther, turns up in a Marvel ensemble movie. Watching the late, great Chadwick Boseman on the big screen is always a treat and will have you yelling “Wakanda forever!”
Avengers: Infinity War focuses on Thanos’ journey through the galaxy as he tries to acquire all of the Infinity Stones for his gauntlet. This one has some incredible action sequences that will leave you breathless. The ending battle between the forces of good and Thanos’ evil army is epic. It’s one of the greatest moments in any superhero film ever made.
When you watch this film you won’t be surprised to read it cost close to $360 million to make. It was money well spent, with the movie not only amazing to watch but earning Walt Disney and Marvel over $2 billion.
4. Avengers: Endgame (2019) – $385.5 Million
The most recent movie to feature on this list, Avengers: Endgame is a fantastic conclusion to the epic Avengers series. The fourth and final film takes place in the aftermath of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half of the world’s population. After confronting Thanos and discovering there is no way to change what has happened, the Avengers go their own ways.
Five years later and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) believes they can travel back in time to stop Thanos from acquiring the Infinity Stones. Reassembling the team, the new-look Avengers form smaller teams and head back in time to capture the Infinity Stones. There’s a lot going on with this one, with a stack of major characters from all the Marvel films involved.
The movie ends with a climatic battle as the Avengers take on Thanos and his armies one final time, resulting in a tear-jerking third act that will leave you with the sads.
Avengers: Endgame has everything you want from a superhero film and is arguably one of the best Marvel films ever created. The $383.5 million budget was used well and backed up by the $2.7 billion worldwide gross.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2017) -$410 Million
The third movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a direct sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp doing his best Keith Richards impersonation) has been dragged down to Davey’s locker and needs rescuing. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightly) team up with Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to save Sparrow.
As with previous installments, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is a special effects-laden spectacular. It’s visually stunning and will have you watching in awe at what happens on the screen. Unfortunately, like many of the films in this franchise, Dead Man’s Chest lacks a cohesive storyline. It’s also 169 minutes long, which is almost three hours. Nobody has time to sit through a movie of that length.
At the time of its release, it was the most expensive movie ever made, and you can see why while watching. It cost $300 million to make but with inflation, this rises to a huge $410 mullion. It might not have been a huge hit with critics, but fans loved it and made sure it was a massive box office success.
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – $427.9 Million
This one is no surprise. Avengers: Age of Ultron was a huge smash when it hit cinemas in 2015. Marvel fans were massively excited for this sequel, with the Avengers taking on Ultron, a global defense system created by Tony Stark. Becoming sentient, the robot believes its destiny is to destroy humankind, with the Avengers tasked with preventing this from happening.
As with all Marvel movies, this is well plotted with lots of action sequences involving all the main players. The likes of Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), and Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow) all pop up and make an impact.
While Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t the best of the Avengers movies, it’s a crucial step towards the next phase of Marvel movies and allows many of the main characters to reveal more about themselves. It’s also the most expensive ever made with a budget of $427.9 million.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) – $479.75 Million
Who would have thought this film would come out on top of the most expensive movies ever made? Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the fourth movie in the Pirates franchise and the first not to be directed by Gore Verbinski. Instead, Rob Marshall takes the reigns of this swashbuckling adventure that finds Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow teaming with Penelope Cruz’s mysterious Angelica on a quest for the Fountain of Youth.
On Stranger Tides is the first in the series to come out in the IMAX 3D format, as well as the Disney Digital 3-D format. While these different ways to view the film gave fans lots of options, critics didn’t think much of the end product. The plot is the main sticking point, with many complaining it wasn’t original. The acting and special effects were praised though, with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides going on to earn over $1 billion at the box office, justifying its $479.75 million budget.
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