The 30 most expensive movies ever made

kacuna@insider.com (Kirsten Acuna)
Tony Stark and Steve Rogers put their differences aside to save the world one more time in "Avengers: Endgame."
Tony Stark and Steve Rogers put their differences aside to save the world one more time in "Avengers: Endgame."

Marvel Studios

"Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame" are two of the highest-grossing movies of all time. 

They're also two of the most expensive movies ever made. 

Insider rounded up the production budgets of the priciest movies produced. A film's production budget includes the cost to construct and operate sets, create and design special effects, props, and costumes. It also contains the salary of cast, technical crew, stunt doubles, producers, and more along with food, lodging, and travel. 

We cross-checked Wikipedia's extensive unofficial list of pricey movie budgets against numbers from IMDbPro, annual studies from FilmLA, and reported budgets from trade sites, including Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety in addition to The New York Times. 

Often the highest-grossing movies are the ones that cost the most money. More than half of the 30 movies on this list are from Disney. Superhero movies, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, and "Star Wars" films comprise some of the costliest movies to produce. 

This story focuses on reported estimates for movie budgets. It does not adjust for inflation, which would not present an accurate reflection of how much a movie may actually cost now to make. We've also included estimated marketing budgets where available. 

30. "The Avengers" (2012) — $220 million

Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye teamed up for the first of many times in a Marvel Studios' film.
Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye teamed up for the first of many times in a Marvel Studios' film.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Worldwide gross: $1.5 billion
Marketing budget: estimated $100 million to $150 million

Bloomberg and the New York Times estimated Disney's superhero team-up at $220 million.

At the time, the film broke several box-office records, including the highest-grossing opening weekend with $207.4 million. The film held that record until 2015's "Jurassic World."

[TIE] 25. "Man of Steel" (2013) — $225 million

Henry Cavill suited up as Superman after "The Dark Knight" trilogy came to a close.
Henry Cavill suited up as Superman after "The Dark Knight" trilogy came to a close.

Warner Bros.

Worldwide gross: $668 million
Marketing budget:
$150 million

Henry Cavill's Superman came on the heels of Christopher Nolan's successful Batman trilogy and cost more than the $185 million reported budget for "The Dark Knight."

It wasn't a runaway box-office performance, but it delivered an underappreciated narrative about a young alien coming to grips with new, scary powers and accepting that he no longer had to hide them out of fear.

[TIE] 25. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006) — $225 million

Jack Sparrow has a debt to pay to Davy Jones in "Dead Man's Chest."
Jack Sparrow has a debt to pay to Davy Jones in "Dead Man's Chest."

Disney

Worldwide gross: $1.1 billion
Marketing budget: n/a

In 2006, producer Jerry Bruckheimer told the New York Times the productions of "Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End" cost $475 million combined. The two filmed back-to-back and were released less than a year apart. Most reports peg "Dead Man's Chest" at around $225 million.

Jack Davenport, who played James Norrington in the film, told the Hollywood Reporter the "snack" budget alone was $2 million for both sequels. 

"I remember saying to him one day 'What is your budget for all this?' He looked me square in the eye and said 'essentially unlimited,'" said Davenport. "I was like 'What does that mean?' He was like 'I don't know, $2 million.'"

[TIE] 25. "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" (2008) — $225 million

"Prince Caspian" grossed more than $300 million less than "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."
"Prince Caspian" grossed more than $300 million less than "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."

Disney

Worldwide gross: $419.7 million
Production and marketing total: ~$350 million

The Los Angeles Times reported that, according to Disney, the film cost "roughly" $225 million. About $100 million went towards the movie's special effects. 

Based on the C.S. Lewis stories, "The Chronicles of Narnia" kicked off, what should have been, a franchise. After the second film didn't perform as well at the box office and a feud outlined by the LA Times between Disney and the film's co-financier and coproducer Walden Media, "Narnia" sputtered out with the third film, 2010's "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

[TIE] 25. "Men in Black 3" (2012) — $225 million+

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones starred in "MIB 3."
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones starred in "MIB 3."

Wilson Webb / Columbia Pictures

Worldwide gross: $624 million
Marketing budget:
n/a

Low estimates for the film placed the budget at north of $215 million, but in 2o12, Deadline estimated the film's budget to be between $225 million and $300 million. The New York Times reported it cost close to $250 million to make. Much of that was because of a tumultuous shooting schedule where, according to Newsweek, the film started production without a finished script.

When the most recent "Men in Black" came out in 2019, Deadline, Forbes, and the Los Angeles Times all reported the "MIB 3" budget at $225 million.

[TIE] 25. "The Lone Ranger" (2013) — $225 million+

Disney was hoping for a new franchise with Johnny Depp in 2013.
Disney was hoping for a new franchise with Johnny Depp in 2013.

Walt Disney Pictures

Worldwide gross: $260.5 million
Marketing budget: $150 million+ worldwide

According to a 2013 Variety article, Disney reps said the film cost "around $225 million," but sources placed the actual budget as much more. THR reported the film, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, cost around $250 million to produce.

[TIE] 23. "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012) — $230 million

Christian Bale's Batman has to stop Bane in Christopher Nolan's end to the "Dark Knight" trilogy.
Christian Bale's Batman has to stop Bane in Christopher Nolan's end to the "Dark Knight" trilogy.

Warner Bros.

Worldwide gross: $1.1 billion
Marketing budget: n/a

The film's original budget was estimated at around $250 million, but the Los Angeles Times reported tax credits brought the budget down to $230 million. The Warner Bros. sequel closed out the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.

[TIE] 23. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" (2017) — $230 million

This was the fifth "Pirates" movie from Disney.
This was the fifth "Pirates" movie from Disney.

Disney

Worldwide gross: $794.9 million
Production and marketing total: ~$400 million

The most recent "Pirates" movie cost less than the third and fourth films in the franchise, according to an estimated budget from Variety.

The film was the lowest-grossing movie domestically in the franchise. Worldwide, the film only grossed higher than the first "Pirates" movie, "The Curse of the Black Pearl."

22. "Avatar" (2009) — $237 million

James Cameron's film was the highest-grossing movie in the world for a decade until "Avengers: Endgame."
James Cameron's film was the highest-grossing movie in the world for a decade until "Avengers: Endgame."

20th Century Fox

Worldwide gross: $2.79 billion
Marketing budget: $150 million

A Fox spokesperson told The Wrap in 2009 the production budget for James Cameron's blockbuster cost $237 million. At the time, the film passed Cameron's previous box-office record holder, "Titanic," to become the highest-grossing movie worldwide

It held that record until "Avengers: Endgame" passed it in 2019.

21. "Transformers: The Last Knight" (2017) — $239 million

The most recent "Transformers" outing is also the most expensive to date.
The most recent "Transformers" outing is also the most expensive to date.

Paramount Pictures

Worldwide gross: $605.4 million
Production and marketing total: $350 million+

According to a 2017 film study from FilmLA Research, the sequel cost $260 million before a $21 million tax incentive from the state of Michigan.

Previously, the film had a reported budget of around $217 million.

[TIE] 15. "The Fate of the Furious" (2017) — $250 million

Dom appears to turn his back on family in the eighth installment of the "Fast" saga.
Dom appears to turn his back on family in the eighth installment of the "Fast" saga.

Universal Pictures

Worldwide gross: $1.2 billion
Production and marketing total: $350 million+

According to Deadline, the eighth film in the franchise cost at least $250 million to produce. Variety also reported the budget at $250 million in 2017. 

The film includes a scene in New York City where numerous cars crash from a parking garage onto street level. The movie really dropped cars from a six-story garage. You can see more of how the film spent its budget here.

[TIE] 15. "Spectre" (2015) — $250 million

"Spectre" is the 24th Bond film, which sees 007 go up against Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).
"Spectre" is the 24th Bond film, which sees 007 go up against Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).

Sony Pictures

Worldwide gross: $880.1 million
Marketing budget: estimated $100 million+

A lot of reported estimates for the film suggest it cost anywhere from $245 million to $300 million to produce. The Hollywood Reporter and a 2015 film study from FilmLA place the budget at $250 million.

Regardless, "Spectre," which shot in Mexico, Austria, Morocco, Italy, and the United Kingdom, is the most expensive Bond movie made. 

[TIE] 15. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2009) — $250 million

Harry Potter is in his sixth year of Hogwarts when he starts to uncover more about Lord Voldemort's past.
Harry Potter is in his sixth year of Hogwarts when he starts to uncover more about Lord Voldemort's past.

Warner Bros.

Worldwide gross: $934.3 million
Marketing budget: $155 million

The sixth movie in the franchise, "The Half-Blood Prince" cost higher than any of the "Potter" films that came before or after it. Still, the larger budget didn't help the movie earn more than the first film, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which grossed over $978 million.

[TIE] 15. "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) — $250 million

The third "Captain America" movie felt like another "Avengers" sequel.
The third "Captain America" movie felt like another "Avengers" sequel.

Marvel

Worldwide gross: $1.2 billion
Marketing budget: n/a

The third "Captain America" movie's budget grew with a large ensemble cast featuring most of the Avengers and the introduction of a new Spider-Man. The film felt more like an "Avengers" movie than another "Captain America" movie.

[TIE] 15. "The Lion King" (2019) — $250 million+

Jon Favreau directed the new remake of "The Lion King."
Jon Favreau directed the new remake of "The Lion King."

Walt Disney Studios

Worldwide gross: $1.7 billion
Production and marketing total: estimated $400 million+

While Deadline reported the film cost at least $260 million to produce for its heavy CGI effects, The Hollywood Reporter placed the budget at roughly $250 million.

[TIE] 15. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015) — $250 million+

James Spader voiced the AI, Ultron, in the "Avengers" sequel.
James Spader voiced the AI, Ultron, in the "Avengers" sequel.

Marvel

Worldwide gross: $1.4 million
Marketing budget: $180 million

The budget for the first "Avengers" sequel is one of the most contested budgets. Deadline, Forbes, and the Washington Post have placed the budget at $250 million as recently as 2018.

A 2018 FilmLA Research study on movies from 2015 reported the budget at $365 million after a tax incentive of $78.5 million. That pricetag would place it higher than "Infinity War" and "Endgame."

Though "Age of Ultron" had less superheroes than either movie, its main villain was CG and it was filmed in more locations. "AoU" was filmed in England, Italy, South Korea, Bangladesh, South Africa, and New York City. "IW" and "Endgame" were filmed back-to-back with filming in Atlanta, England, New York, and Scotland.

A representative for Disney didn't respond to Insider's request for comment about the "AoU" budget.

14. "Beauty and the Beast" (2017) — ~$255 million

Emma Watson and Dan Stevens starred in the Disney live-action remake.
Emma Watson and Dan Stevens starred in the Disney live-action remake.

Disney

Worldwide gross: $1.3 billion
Production and marketing total: $300 million+

While some estimates place the budget for the live-action movie around $160 million, Forbes reported financial statements filed in Britain put the film at $254.6 million.

13. "Spider-Man 3" (2007) — $258 million

"Spider-Man 3" introduced audiences to a version of Venom.
"Spider-Man 3" introduced audiences to a version of Venom.

Sony Pictures

Worldwide gross: $894.9 million
Marketing budget: ~$120 million

The official budget for the movie was reported for Variety. At the time, then-chair of marketing and distribution at Sony Pictures Jeff Blake said the studio was spending less to promote the sequel than the second film.

"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," producer Laura Ziskin told Rotten Tomatoes in 2007 of why the budget was higher than the first two Spidey films starring Tobey Maguire. 

"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," Ziskin added.

12. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015) — $259 million

Kylo Ren and Rey face off in "The Force Awakens."
Kylo Ren and Rey face off in "The Force Awakens."

Disney

Worldwide gross: $1.1 billion
Marketing budget: budget and marketing combined estimated at $350 million+

The $259 reported budget comes after a $47.4 million tax incentive from the British government reported by Politico

Lucasfilm's return to "Star Wars," now under the Disney brand, utilized a number of practical effects and puppetry over CG.

11. "Tangled" (2010) — $260 million

A lot of work was put into making sure Rapunzel's hair looked correct.
A lot of work was put into making sure Rapunzel's hair looked correct.

Walt Disney Animation

Worldwide gross: $592.5 million
Marketing budget: $100 million+

Disney's 2010 animated movie is the most expensive 3D animated movie ever made. Why?

The high cost for "Tangled" was due in part to the complex blend of traditional hand-drawn animation from older films ("Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King") with CG to give the film the distinct feeling of one of the classics in the 21st century. And then there was Rapunzel's hair. 

During an interview with animator Glen Keane, who worked on Rapunzel, he told Daps Magic they started creating the software to animate Rapunzel's hair in 2005. Codirector Nathan Greno told Sioux City Journal an entire team was in charge of animating the character's hair. 

"It's about 1,000 tubes or 100,000 actual hairs," said Greno. "The artists were able to get a general movement from those tubes."

 

10. "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (2017) — $262 million

Mark Hamill reprises his role as Luke Skywalker in the second film of the latest "Star Wars" trilogy.
Mark Hamill reprises his role as Luke Skywalker in the second film of the latest "Star Wars" trilogy.

Lucasfilm

Worldwide gross: $1.3 billion
Marketing budget: The New York Times reported the sequel cost an estimated $350 million to produce and market.

Forbes estimated the film's budget at closer to $250 million. A 2016 study from FilmLA puts the original budget of the film at $317 million before over $54 million in tax incentives from the UK.

9. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2016) — ~$263 million

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" grossed $873.6 million worldwide on a budget between $250-$300 million.
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" grossed $873.6 million worldwide on a budget between $250-$300 million.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Worldwide gross: $873.6 million
Marketing budget: $150 million - $160 million

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the budget for "Batman v Superman" was higher than $250 million before tax incentives. A 2016 study by FilmLA puts the budget at $263 million after $37 million in incentives are accounted for.

8. "John Carter" (2012) — $263.7 million

"John Carter" was one of Taylor Kitsch's first big roles after TV hit "Friday Night Lights."
"John Carter" was one of Taylor Kitsch's first big roles after TV hit "Friday Night Lights."

Walt Disney Studios

Worldwide gross: $284.1 million
Marketing budget: $100 million+

According to Forbes in 2014, the movie cost over $306 million to make before British tax incentives paid Disney $42.9 million for the cost of the film. The movie, starring Taylor Kitsch, was supposed to launch a new franchise for Disney.

Instead, "John Carter" became one of the Mouse House's biggest flops with Disney taking a $200 million write-down for the film.

[TIE] 6. "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" (2019) — $275 million

After years of waiting, viewers learned who Rey's parents were in "The Rise of Skywalker."
After years of waiting, viewers learned who Rey's parents were in "The Rise of Skywalker."

Disney

Worldwide gross: $1.1 billion
Production and marketing total: ~$400 million

The final "Star Wars" movie in the Skywalker Saga was the most expensive of the new trilogy. The film was received better than "The Last Jedi" by fans, but received mixed reviews from critics. 

[TIE] 6. "Solo: A Star Wars Story" (2018) — $275 million

The "Star Wars" spinoff introduced us to a young Han and Lando.
The "Star Wars" spinoff introduced us to a young Han and Lando.

Lucasfilm

Worldwide gross: $392.9 million
Production and marketing total: $400 million

The Evening Standard reported the cost of making the film, based on paperwork filed for Stannum 50 Labs, a codename used during production for the movie.

After original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired over creative differences, Ron Howard reshot a good portion of the film. According to Variety, Howard's contributions account for about 70% of the final film. 

[TIE] 4. "Justice League" (2017) — ~$300 million

A movie with Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and the Flash should have been an easy $1 billion for WB when compared to Marvel's "The Avengers."
A movie with Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and the Flash should have been an easy $1 billion for WB when compared to Marvel's "The Avengers."

Warner Bros. Pictures

Worldwide gross: $657.9 million
Production and marketing total: estimated $400 million+

In 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported the budget for the film grew to about $300 million. Joss Whedon had stepped in to finish the film after director Zack Snyder stepped down following the death of his daughter. The film had already been rewritten to have a lighter tone. With Synder gone, "Justice League" underwent reshoots and a mandate that the film be under two hours.

Fans will finally get to see the version of the film Snyder intended to make. His version of the film will debut on HBO Max in 2021 with a completely new villain.

[TIE] 4. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (2007) — $300 million

Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swan. "At World's End" was originally thought to be the final movie in a trilogy of "Pirates" movies.
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swan. "At World's End" was originally thought to be the final movie in a trilogy of "Pirates" movies.

Disney

Worldwide gross: $961 million
Marketing budget: n/a

At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported "At World's End" was one of the first $300 million+ movies to be made.

The film debuted the summer after the previous "Pirates" film, "Dead Man's Chest," was the highest-grossing movie in the world with over $1 billion at the box office. The next highest-grossing film was "The Da Vinci Code" ($760 million worldwide). "At World's End" also became the highest-grossing film of 2007, despite earning a bit less than "Dead Man's Chest" in theaters.

3. "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018) — $316 million+

Thanos snaps away half of the population in "Infinity War."
Thanos snaps away half of the population in "Infinity War."

Marvel

Worldwide gross: $2 billion
Marketing budget: estimated $150 million - $170 million

Most reports put the cost of the 2018 film between $300 and $400 million.

In April 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported the film cost around $300 million to make. The following month, Deadline reported the budget at an estimated $316 million before adjusting the reported budget to $325 million in April 2019.

Both "Infinity War" and "Endgame" filmed back-to-back with some scenes for the latter being filmed during the 2018 movie. The film not only became the highest-grossing movie of 2018, but is also the fifth highest-grossing film of all time

2. "Avengers: Endgame" (2019) — $350 million+

The remaining Avengers confront Thanos in the new "Endgame" teaser.
The remaining Avengers confront Thanos in the new "Endgame" teaser.

Marvel Studios

Worldwide gross: $2.8 billion
Marketing budget: estimated $150 million to $200 million+

The New York Times reported the "Infinity War" sequel budget to cost "roughly" $350 million. In April 2020, Deadline reported the budget a bit higher at $356 million. The Marvel Cinematic Universe's 22nd film features more than 30 major characters in the movie's final battle.

The film surpassed "Avatar" to become the highest-grossing movie in the world. 

1. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011) — $376.5 million

Jack Sparrow sought the fountain of youth in the fourth film.
Jack Sparrow sought the fountain of youth in the fourth film.

Walt Disney Pictures

Worldwide gross: $1 billion
Production and marketing total: In 2011, the NYT originally reported the film cost ~$400 million in total.

In 2014, Forbes reported British financial statements showed the film cost $410.6 million before a tax credit worth at least $34.1 million. According to Forbes, Johnny Depp made $55 million for the sequel.

Depp told Vanity Fair (via THR) in 2011 he was overpaid for the "Pirates" franchise.

"If they're going to pay me the stupid money right now, I'm going to take it," Depp said. "I have to. I mean, it's not for me. Do you know what I mean? At this point, it's for my kids.

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