List of most expensive films


List of most expensive films

This is a non-definitive list of the most expensive films.

Due to the secretive nature of Hollywood accounting it is not clear which film is the most expensive film ever made. Spider-Man 3 officially holds the record with an acknowledged cost of $258 million,[1] while Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and its sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End were produced together on a combined budget of $450 million,[2] making them the most expensive production. Although the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels shared many costs it is estimated that around $300 million was spent on producing At World's End.[3] More recently there have been reports that Avatar is the most expensive film ever made with speculation that it cost $280 million.[4] Inflation also naturally contributes to increasing sizes, which often sees Cleopatra cited as the most expensive film of all time. Costing $44 million in 1963, its cost adjusted for inflation is over $300 million.[3]

This list contains only the films that are already released to the general public, and no films that are still in production, post-production or just announced films, for the reason that these costs can still change in the production process. Listed below is the negative cost: the costs of the actual filming, and not including promotional costs (i.e. advertisements, commercials, posters, etc.). The charts are ordered by official budget amounts where they are known. Most studios, however, will not give a statement on the actual production costs, so only estimates by professional researchers and movie industry writers are available. Where budget estimates conflict the productions are charted by lower-bound estimates.

Contents

Most expensive productions (nominal cost)

Only productions with a budget over $150 million U.S. dollars are listed here. Productions that cost $150 million or less are not included on the chart.

Most expensive films
Rank Title Year Film costs in millions (est.)
1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 $300m[3][5][nb 1]
2 Tangled 2010 $260m[6][7][8][9]
3 Spider-Man 3 2007 $258m (official)[1]
4 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009 $250m[10][11]
5 Avatar 2009 $237m (official)[12][nb 2]
6 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 2008 $225m (official)[13]
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 $225m[3][14][nb 1]
8 X-Men: The Last Stand 2006 $210m[15][16]
9 Superman Returns 2006 $209m (official)[17][nb 3]
10 King Kong 2005 $207m[18][19][20]
11 Titanic 1997 $200m (official) [1][21][22]
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 2009 $200m (official)[23]
2012 2009 $200m (official)[24]
Spider-Man 2 2004 $200m[25][26]
Quantum of Solace 2008 $200m[27][28]
Terminator Salvation 2009 $200m[29][30]
Toy Story 3 2010 $200m[31][32]
Green Lantern 2011 $200m[33][34][35]
Cars 2 2011 $200m[36][37][38]
20 Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2011 $195m[39][40][41][42]
21 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008 $185m[43][44][45]
The Dark Knight 2008 $185m[14][46][47]
23 The Golden Compass 2007 $180m (official)[48][49]
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $180m[50][51][52]
WALL-E 2008 $180m[53][54]
26 Troy 2004 $175m (official)[55]
Evan Almighty 2007 $175m[56][57][58]
Monsters vs. Aliens 2009 $175m[59][60][61]
Up 2009 $175m[62][63]
A Christmas Carol 2009 $175m[64][65]
31 Waterworld 1995 $172m[66][67][68]
31 Wild Wild West 1999 $170m[69][70]
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 2003 $170m[71][72][73][nb 4]
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 2009 $170m[74][75]
Iron Man 2 2010 $170m[76][77][78][79]
Tron: Legacy 2010 $170m[80][81][82][83]
37 How to Train Your Dragon 2010 $165m[84][85][86]
38 Cowboys and Aliens 2011 $163m (official)[87]
39 Sahara 2005 $160m (official)[88]
Van Helsing 2004 $160m[89][90][91]
Poseidon 2006 $160m[92][93][94]
Shrek the Third 2007 $160m[95]
Inception 2010 $160m[96][97][98][99]
44 Robin Hood 2010 $155m (official)[100][101][nb 5]
Alexander 2004 $155m[103][104]
Most expensive multi-film productions
Rank Titles Year(s) Production costs in millions (est.)
1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
2006–07 $450m[2][nb 1]
2 The Lord of the Rings film trilogy 2001–03 $260m (official)[105][106][nb 6]
3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 & Part 2 2010–11 $250m (official)[107]
4 The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
2003 $237m[nb 7]

Sound era record-holders

Ben-Hur (1925), costing about $4 million (an astronomical sum in those days at twenty-five times the $160,000 average cost of an MGM feature), held the record as the most expensive film going from the silent era into the sound era.[108] It is unclear which film superseded it as the most expensive film, although this is commonly attributed to Hell's Angels (1930), directed by Howard Hughes; the accounts for Hell's Angels show it cost $2.8 million, but Hughes publicised it as costing $4 million, selling it to the media as the most expensive film ever made up to that point.[109] The first film to seriously challenge the record was Gone with the Wind (1939), also costing about $4 million,[110] although sources from the time state that Ben-Hur and—erroneously—Hell's Angels cost more.[111][112] The first film that definitively displaced Ben-Hur at the top of the chart was Duel in the Sun in 1946, meaning Ben Hur might possibly have held the record for 21 years.

Year Production Film Costs in millions (est.)
1939 Gone with the Wind* $3.9–4.25m[110]
1944 Wilson* $4m[113]
1946 Duel in the Sun $5.255m[110][nb 8]
1947 Forever Amber $6.375m[110]
1951 Quo Vadis $7m[115][116][117]
1956 The Ten Commandments $13.5m[118][119]
1959 Ben-Hur $15m[116][117][118][119]
1962 Mutiny on the Bounty $19m[120][121]
1963 Cleopatra $44m[3][119]
1978 Superman $55m[122]
1988 Rambo III $58m[122]
Who Framed Roger Rabbit $70m[122]
1990 Die Hard 2* $70m[122]
1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day $94m[123][124][125]
1994 True Lies $100m[126][127][128]
1995 Waterworld $172m[66][67][68]
1997 Titanic $200m[1][21][22]
2003 The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
$237m[nb 7]
Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) $260m[105][106][nb 6]
2005 King Kong $207m[18][19][20]
2006 X-Men: The Last Stand $210m[15][16]
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $225m[3][14]
2007 Spider-Man 3 (official record holder) $258m[1]
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End $300m[3][5]
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
$450m[2][nb 1]

* Possibly held the record, but the figures are too inprecise to be definitive.

Most expensive productions (adjusted for inflation)

The productions listed here have their nominal budgets adjusted for inflation using the United States Consumer Price Index[135] taking the year of release. Charts adjusted for inflation are usually ordered differently, because they are dependent on the inflation measure used and the original budget estimate.

The Soviet produced War and Peace released in four parts across 1966 and 1967 is sometimes cited as the most expensive production ever: American estimates put its cost at $100 million, costing nearly $700 million accounting for inflation, although Russian sources show its cost to be a more conservative $9 million (about $54 million in today's money).[nb 10]

Another notable omission is Metropolis, the 1927 German film directed by Fritz Lang, often erroneously reported as having cost $200 million at the value of modern money. According to the German Consumer Price Index, Metropolis would have cost about €18 million (approximately US$24 million) at today's prices.[nb 11]

Most expensive films
Rank Title Year Adjusted film costs in millions (est.) Nominal film costs in millions (est.)
1 Cleopatra 1963 $320m $44m[3]
2 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 2007 $318m $300m[3][5][nb 1]
3 Titanic 1997 $274m $200m (official)[1][21][22]
4 Spider-Man 3 2007 $273m $258m (official)[1]
5 Tangled 2010 $260m $260m[6][7][8][9]
6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009 $256m $250m[10][11]
7 Waterworld 1995 $248m $172m[66][67][68]
8 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 2006 $245m $225m[3][14][nb 1]
9 Avatar 2009 $243m $237m (official)[12][nb 2]
10 King Kong 2005 $233m $207m[18][19][20]
Spider-Man 2 2004 $233m $200m[25][26]
12 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 2008 $230m $225m (official)[13]
13 X-Men: The Last Stand 2006 $229m $210m[15][16]
14 Superman Returns 2006 $228m $209m (official)[17][nb 3]
15 Wild Wild West 1999 $224m $170m[69][70]
16 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 2009 $205m $200m (official)[23]
2012 2009 $205m $200m (official)[24]
Terminator Salvation 2009 $205m $200m[29][30]
19 Quantum of Solace 2008 $204m $200m[27][28]
20 Troy 2004 $203m $175m (official)[55]
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 2003 $203m $170m[71][72][73][nb 4]
22 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $202m $180m[50][51][52]
23 Toy Story 3 2010 $200m $200m[31][32]
Green Lantern 2011 $200m $200m[33][34][35]
Cars 2 2011 $200m $200m[36][37][38]
26 Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2011 $195m $195m[39][40][41][42]
27 The Golden Compass 2007 $191m $180m (official)[48][49]
28 Superman 1978 $190m $55m[122]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End were produced together on a combined budget of $450 million.[2] Budget overruns reportedly pushed the final cost of the joint production up to a total of $500 million. The individual budget estimates conjecture how the overall budget was divided between the two films, but many of the costs are indivisible such as the fees for the actors who appeared in both films and would most likely have been contracted for a single fee, and the cost of the sets common to both films.[1]
  2. ^ a b Estimates for Avatar's cost have varied considerably with some as high as $500 million.[152] The $500 million figure also incorporates the $150 million marketing budget, and the costs of developing the necessary 3-D cameras and motion capture technology which were independently financed by private investors and none of which are included in the production cost.[4][153] Recent estimates put the production costs at about $310 million, although a 15% tax rebate from New Zealand is expected to reduce the final bill by $25–30 million,[154][155] which would ultimately put the cost at around $280 million.[4] Avatar was initially budgeted at $190 million[156][157] but the studio later acknowledged it cost $237 million after its budget came under intense media scrutiny.[12] A further $1 million per minute were spent on the nine minutes of extra footage in Avatar: Special Edition.[158]
  3. ^ a b Warner Bros. acknowledged that the true cost of Superman Returns was $209 million, or $40 million higher if the cost of the previous aborted Superman projects were to be included. It is not uncommon for studios to attach bad debt from aborted projects to the cost of successful films since it means they can reduce the payments to producers and actors who have net profit participation deals, but these extra costs are not part of the production budget which is used to make the film.[17]
  4. ^ a b The production budget for Terminator 3 was initially set at $170 million, making it the most expensive film ever to be greenlit at the time.[159][160] Other estimates put the initial budget at $169 million[161] and the final cost of the film at $187 million.[162]
  5. ^ A spokesman for Universal stated that Robin Hood cost $155 million to produce after tax credits; however, this figure does not take into account the $25 million costs incurred by an earlier aborted production, and estimates put the total cost of the production at $200 million.[100][102] The Wrap obtained a purported copy of the budget showing expenditure totalling $237 million.[101]
  6. ^ a b Wingnut Films stated that the budget for the three Lord of the Rings films was $260 million, however estimates of the cost during production varied from $270 million to $360 million, none of which were confirmed or denied by Wingnut.[105] Estimates put the final cost at around $285 million.[3]
  7. ^ a b The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were produced together at a reported cost of $127 million[129][130][131] and $110 million[132] respectively for a combined total of $237 million. Some reports put the combined cost of the production at $300 million.[133][134]
  8. ^ Even though Duel in the Sun became the undisputed record-holder, it is possible the record was snatched from another Gregory Peck starrer, The Yearling, which had premiered just two weeks earlier in December 1946. The Internet Movie Database cites a production budget of $4 million for The Yearling, in line with several other contenders for the record of most expensive film, such as Ben-Hur (1925), Gone with the Wind (1939) and Wilson (1944). However there is little evidence to corroborate this estimate, and IMDb sometimes include marketing and distribution costs in their production budget estimates.[114]
  9. ^ It is technically impossible to adjust the ruble for inflation since the Soviet Union did not formally acknowledge inflation; instead, the USSR would periodically reprice everything from goods to labour to services. Inflation is usually measured in Western free market economies using a price index such as the Consumer price index, but no such measure existed in the case of the Soviet Union. However, it is possible to measure the increase in average annual earnings in the Soviet Union and there is typically a strong correllation between average earnings and inflation, and although earnings have typically increased at a faster rate than cost-of-living indeces used to measure inflation in many Western economies such as the United States, it is a legitimate (if infrequent) inflation measure.[137] In 1965 the average annual wage in the Soviet Union was 1,158 Soviet rubles,[138] and in 2008 the average monthly wage in Russia was US$640,[139] which was approximately an annual salary of 191,000 Russian rubles (the Russian ruble replaced the Soviet ruble in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union) at the 2008 exchange rate of 24.9 rubles to the US dollar.[140] This puts salary inflation at approximately 16,500% (if you factor in the 1998 redenomination of the ruble, but if you don't the true inflation level is 1000 times higher at 16,500,000%), and applying this rate of inflation to the original cost (estimated at 8,165,200 rubles)[136] of War And Peace would yield an approximate amount of 1,350,000,000 Russian rubles. At the 2008 exchange rate of 24.9 rubles to the US dollar, 1,350,000,000 Russian rubles is roughly equivalent to US$54.2 million.[140]
  10. ^ The Russian estimate of 8,165,200 rubles[136] for the production costs of War And Peace was equivalent to US$9,063,372 in 1965 (approximately $54.2 million in 2008 adjusted for inflation[nb 9]) at a conversion rate of 1 ruble = US$1.11.[141] The figure from Russian sources is significantly below American estimates which put the cost of the production at around $100 million[142][143] (about $700 million[142][144][145] in 2008 dollars). The Soviet authorities supplied many things needed for the production free of charge (such as thousands of extras), which were probably not accounted for by American estimates.[142]
  11. ^ Costing 5.3 million Reichsmarks in 1927,[146] Metropolis is often reported as having cost $200 million[147][148] at the value of modern money, but according to the German Consumer price index, it would cost only €18 million (at the Deutsche Mark to Euro exchange rate of 1.95583DM to 1 euro[149]) in today's money[150] (equivalent to about US$24 million at the 2010 exchange rate of 0.755 euros to the dollar[140]). The "$200 million" estimate is clearly in error by an order of ten; it is most likely that it came about by adjusting the original cost for German inflation, converting the German marks to euros, and then converting the euro figure to American dollars. The process probably failed to account for the fact that the original cost was in Reichsmarks and not Deutsche Marks. The Deutsche Mark replaced the Reichsmark in West Germany in 1948 at a conversion rate of 10 Reichsmarks to 1 Deutsche Mark (the Deutsche Mark later replaced the East German mark after the re-unification of Germany and exchanged at parity), so all amounts expressed in Reichsmarks must be divided by 10 to get the equivalent Deutsche Mark value. In applying this methodology, the estimate would come down to about $20 million, and more in line with the CPI figure.[151]

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