The bigger the budget, the more that’s at stake. While many directors never have to worry about films costing over a few million (if that), there are some who regularly operate in the area of $200 million. It begs the question: what is the most expensive movie ever made? We’ve adjusted the budgets of various movies over the years for inflation to give you this list of the biggest budget movies, all leading up to the most expensive movie ever made.
HIGHEST BUDGET MOVIE
This won’t be the only entry the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise will have on this list. But it does hold the distinction of being the lowest-grossing film in the series domestically. It’s no wonder the 2017 movie effectively stalled development on a prospective sixth film.
MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE BUDGET
It’s interesting to think of the movie Captain America: Civil War would be if Spider-Man hadn’t ended up being part of it. There was a working version of the script without Spidey’s involvement, but as it stands, the film ended up giving the web-head the perfect introduction to the MCU. He’s a fully-formed hero, allowing Spider-Man: Homecoming to gloss over the elements of his origin story that had already been told to death onscreen.
MOST EXPENSIVE FILM EVER MADE
Expectations were high for The Dark Knight Rises coming off the immense critical and commercial success of The Dark Knight. After Heath Ledger’s Joker, the sequel needed to somehow up the ante, and it accomplished precisely that with a larger budget and wider scope. For most people, the film failed to surpass its predecessor but that was certainly a tall order. And it did make its money back and then some.
WHAT’S THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER MADE?
Given the advancements in moviemaking technology Avatar helped usher in, it’s astonishing the film isn’t higher up on this list. At the time it came out, it actually was the most expensive movie ever made, but thanks to the advent of major blockbusters and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its title soon fell.
MOST EXPENSIVE HOLLYWOOD MOVIE EVER MADE
Internal memos leaked during the Sony hack revealed the budget for Spectre was originally going to be a lot more. However, the forces that be managed to get it reduced to the mid-200s after rebates. That being said, it's still a "rich-looking" movie where you can tell that most of their formative budget actually did make it on-screen, which is not always the case.
TOP MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIES
20. No Time to Die
It’s only appropriate for the next James Bond installment to top the previous, but the true cost of No time to Die is under dispute. While it’s been reported the budget came in at less than $250 million, Variety reported that it could be as high as $300 million due to delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER MADE
18. Furious 7
Furious 7 was originally only supposed to cost in the neighborhood of $190 million. However, the unexpected death of star Paul Walker forced the team behind the scenes to use unseen footage and digital effects to complete the movie without him. This forced the budget to skyrocket toward $250 million.
MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER MADE
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the most expensive film made in the Harry Potter series. The reason for this can be attributed to two factors. One: The actors had been around long enough to negotiate strong contracts. Two: The film heavily relied on CGI, which gets expensive quickly.
HIGHEST BUDGET MOVIE IN THE WORLD
Disney has recently gotten in the business of remaking all of its beloved animated classics into the realm of live-action. However, animation seems downright affordable when looking at the cost of some of these movies, especially Beauty and the Beast, which was produced for $255 million during production in Europe.
LIST OF BIGGEST BUDGET MOVIES
15. Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 is a perfect case study of Hollywood’s need to go bigger with every installment of a franchise. A producer for the film spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about the phenomenon: “We said that to Sony going in so our visual effects budget was probably 30% higher and I think that’s reflected in the number of action sequences, the scale of the sequences and the complexity of course of Sandman. And then the talent obviously made more money in each successive movie which they well deserved. So that’s where the increase in the budget came.”
MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE BUDGET OF ALL TIME
The Force Awakens was less reliant on CGI than the prequels. As such, it utilized more real sets and props. So why was it over twice the budget? As it turns out, filming in real locations isn’t always necessarily cheaper than using a green screen.
WHAT’S THE MOST EXPENSIVE FILM EVER MADE?
13. The Lion King (2019)
2019’s The Lion King is a good example of how marketing can greatly alter the overall cost of making a film. For instance, the film cost roughly $260 million to make. But reports indicate that with marketing, the true cost of the film was closer to $400 million. At least it more than made up for the cost with a stellar box office run.
WHAT’S THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER PRODUCED?
It may seem weird that a Disney retelling of Rapunzel would cost so much. However, the high budget can be attributed to the film's combination of hand-drawn animation and CGI. Production also stopped and started repeatedly before the finished product could get underway.
COSTLIEST MOVIE EVER MADE
The Last Jedi had one dubious distinction at the box office. It was the first big-budget blockbuster since 2013 to net less than $50 million at the China box office. And even though it has become one of the most divisive entry in the Skywalker legacy, it didn't stop people from seeing it.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE?
9. John Carter
John Carter is an infamous Hollywood cautionary tale. It's one of the biggest bombs in box office history, and it's interesting to consider all of the factors that led to it tanking. Part of this can be attributed to Disney's lackluster efforts to adequately market the film.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE
The Rise of Skywalker was by no means a flop, but by Disney’s standards for a Star Wars film, it underperformed. Many believe the reason for this to be an over-saturation of Star Wars movies.
With a franchise as big as Star Wars, you're almost guaranteed to see a profit, even after spending almost $300 million.
ALL-TIME HIGHEST BUDGET MOVIE
It may sound off to hear that a spinoff is technically the most expensive Star Wars movie ever made. However, the film had a tumultuous time behind the scenes. It switched directors partway through production and underwent extensive reshoots.
RANKING BIGGEST BUDGET MOVIES
Prior to the Snyder Cut, Justice League faced many of the same problems behind the scenes as Solo. There was a director change, and the film received numerous reshoots and added scenes. The theatrical cut was lambasted upon release only to get reborn under Snyder's original vision.
ANALYZING THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE BUDGET
At World’s End had all the usual suspects when it comes to big budget tentpole features. There was extensive VFX as well as shooting on location. However, there was also the matter of rising star costs to pay for the likes of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom to star in the picture.
DETERMINING THE MOST EXPENSIVE FILM EVER MADE
It was the most ambitious crossover of all time. Signing all of those big-name stars, who at that point had starred in several money-making blockbusters, couldn’t have been cheap. At this point, it was a culmination of all the Marvel movies up to that point, so you know they had to go big or go home.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER MADE (2022)
Avengers: Endgame cost $350 million to make. Astonishingly, $75 million of that went to Robert Downey Jr., who was able to amass incredible negotiating power since his time in the original Iron Man in 2008. He made a measly $500,000 for that movie.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER PRODUCED
On Stranger Tides is the most expensive film ever made? "How can that be?" you might ask. First, the movie was shot using expensive 3D cameras. Secondly, many of the scenes were shot at sea, which many major film productions can attest is exceptionally costly. Not only that, the franchise had been red hot since its inception so a huge budget was a calculated risk.
Zero Budget Filmmaking Tips
You don’t need $200 million to make a great movie. You don’t even need $1 million. All you need is gumption and the right script to show off your strengths as a filmmaker. Follow our guide on how to make your feature film debut without breaking the bank.