Movies cost an incredible amount of money to produce, especially for an audience that has become so demanding. With superheroes and sci-fi pictures dominating the box office, those types of movies often require a lot of money. All that cash goes into the abundance of actors, sets, props, and, most importantly, visual effects.
Can you even imagine what Avengers would be like without Thanos, or Star Wars without spaceship battles? Creating the biggest spectacles can often lead to spending the most money.
Here’s a list of some of the most expensive movies ever made, many of which actually made bank on their hefty investments to become recognized as blockbusters.
- #10 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #9 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #8 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #7 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #6 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #5 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #4 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #3 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #2 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
- #1 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
#10 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($263 million)
By the time Warner Bros had finished Man of Steel in 2013, Marvel was already well into the second phase of the highly profitable Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hoping not to be outdone, the next DC Comics movie aimed to be a far bigger film. Batman v. Superman would finally see the on-screen theatrical meeting of DC Comics’ two biggest superheroes: Clark Kent (Henry Cavil) and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Many other characters would also grace the screen as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), and Alfred (Jeremy Irons).
The film also featured the villain Doomsday, a murderous monster composed entirely of CGI that would destroy many parts of Metropolis, leading to an explosive climax where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman fight together to defeat this threat. In addition to the many car chases and fight scenes, the budget ended up around $263 million.
The investment by Warner Bros would pay off, despite the rather low critical response. The film would make $873.6 million at the international box office, making for a decent profit for a superhero movie.
#9 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
John Carter ($264 million)
Andrew Stanton was known for his animated work at Pixar but went into the realm of live-action with his passion project of John Carter. The property had been in development hell at Disney but Stanton pushed for the film to be made. It was an expensive film, to say the least for focusing on the sci-fi adventures of John as he journeys through an alien planet with all manner of alien creatures, technology, and starships.
The sci-fi epic would take seven months to shoot and an elaborate amount of visual effects to bring to life. This would lead to a budget of $264 million, making for a rather expensive investment in a property that Disney hasn’t adapted before.
Sadly, the film wasn’t much of a success, garnering mixed critical reactions and a box office total of $284.1 million. Over time, the film has gained a bit of a cult following for its adventurous spirit.
#8 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ($275 million)
Disney aimed to bring their first Star Wars trilogy to a close with a big bang and spent big bucks to make it happen. Noted as Episode IX of the central Star Wars saga, the episode went through many rewrites and switching of directors before finally heading into production in 2018, almost a year after the previous entry of The Last Jedi.
The film brought the saga to a huge closing with director J.J. Abrams helming a picture with a gravity-defying planet, daring lightsaber battles, dimension-shifting Jedi powers, and one of the most over-the-top starship battles ever seen in a Star Wars picture. This led to the film receiving a massive budget of $275 million.
Despite this entry receiving some of the lowest critical ratings of Disney’s Star Wars trilogy, the film still proved profitable as it would amass $1.074 billion at the international box office.
#7 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Solo: A Star Wars Story ($275 million)
It may surprise you that one of the more expensive Star Wars films of the sequel trilogy era was actually a spin-off. Solo was meant to take place between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, following the adventures of a young Han Solo.
The prequel/spin-off picture went through a major overhaul, switching from the more comical directors of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to the more tactile direction of Ron Howard. The choice in switching up the directors for reshoots seemed to mostly come down to Disney aiming for more of an adventurous spirit than a mockingly comical one.
The film would still make $393.2 million internationally which is a bit of a disappointment for one of the more expensive Star Wars films during an era when most of them were making $1 billion.
#6 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Justice League ($300 million)
Warner Bros was really hoping for Justice League to be as equally as profitable as Disney’s Avengers movies. To make that same bank on the ultimate superhero crossover, Justice League was going to feature several DC Comics characters sharing the big screen for the first time. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman had previously appeared in Batman v. Superman but were joined in this film by Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash to defeat the evil Steppenwolf.
The film featured a lot of visual effects to pay for such extravagant action but also had a lot of reshoots to pay for. This resulted in director Zack Snyder being replaced by Joss Whedon to trim down the running time to 2.5 hours. As a result, Justice League underwent two months of reshoots before debuting in November 2017. What’s even more expensive is if you count the alternative Zack Snyder cut of the film which cost an extra $70 million to produce for additional visual effects and reshoots.
#5 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($300 million)
Disney realized quickly in the 2000s that Pirates was their big hit. The box office ballooned for each film and the budget rose with it. Aiming to bring the trilogy to a massive close, Disney would spend $300 million producing the swashbuckling epic. Loaded with sword fights, sea creatures, and elaborate ship-to-ship combat, the film was overflowing with visual effects and grand sets.
The expensive film was not as big a win as the previous Pirates movie that amassed $1 billion on a $225 million budget, considering that At World’s End only made $960.9 million. But it was still a profitable enough film with an audience transfixed on finding out what would happen to Captain Jack Sparrow and if Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann would finally have a happy ending.
#4 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Avengers: Infinity War ($325 million)
Before Endgame, Infinity War was the most ambitious Avengers game to date. Many heroes and villains who had never met each other would cross paths in this film. The film’s central villain of Thanos was also the most expensive of CGI characters in a film already filled with them.
Infinity War was bursting with more visual effects than its towering cast, including the grand-scale war at Wakanda of many heroes facing off against an onslaught of alien beasts and a gravity-defying showdown with Thanos on an alien planet.
The film’s gamble paid off greatly as audiences flocked to the film in droves, resulting in a $2.048 billion international box office, all but guaranteeing the sequel film would be an instant blockbuster hit.
#3 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Avengers: Endgame ($356 million)
Endgame is not only one of the biggest Avengers movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the biggest MCU movie, period. It featured characters from nearly every MCU movie, many of which required computer graphics to fully form these characters (Rocket, Groot, Korg, Thanos).
Then you have the characters who required CGI to make them believable as armored, magical, and science-wielding beings (Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man). These don’t even take into account the towering ensemble, including guest stars you might not have expected to return.
With an epic climax involving a war of hundreds, the beefy $365 million budget should make sense. It hardly has to be mentioned that it paid off considering that Avengers: Endgame would make $2.798 billion at the international box office, making it one of the best-performing films of all time.
#2 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Avengers: Age of Ultron ($365 million)
For the Avengers’ second film on the big screen, Marvel Studios spared no expense. The $365 million was spent to bring the film to life which was a combination of both the wealth of contracts and the abundance in visual effects. It’s easy to see where that money was spent as the lead villain Ultron is a robot entirely made of CGI.
Combine the cost of that character’s performance in addition to his legions of robot soldiers, Iron Man’s robot suit, Thor’s magical hammer, Hulk’s bulky figure, and a towering climax involving a floating city and SHIELD’s massive heli-carrier, and you’ve got one expensive Marvel movie.
And there were many more to come considering the international box office of $1.403 billion assured that there would be more Avengers movies in the future.
#1 Most Expensive Movie to Produce
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($379 million)
Before Disney acquired Marvel, the studio’s biggest box office champion for action was Pirates of the Caribbean. The billion-dollar franchise had made some serious cash and Disney aimed to make the fourth film just as grand as the previous trilogy. The film continued on with Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush reprising their roles as Captain Jack and Captain Barbossa respectively.
Trying to keep up with the times, Disney spent more money developing 3D effects on top of the massive amount of computer-generated effects, relying on ten companies to bring the film to life. The result was one of the most expensive Pirates of the Caribbean movies, costing an estimated $379 million to produce. Considering the film made over $1 billion at the international box office, it was money well spent.