5 of the Most Expensive Hollywood Films Ever Made

If there's one motto that Hollywood has learned to live by it's bigger is better. Film historians tend to credit Steven Spielberg's Jaws, released in the summer of 1975, and George Lucas's original 1977 smash, Star Wars, with ushering in the era of the big summer blockbuster. Since then these blockbusters have only gotten more epic and more expensive. Here, adjusted for inflation, are five Hollywood movies that really broke the bank.

5. Justice League

 

Justice League observers might have expected the first live action on-screen team-up of DC's flagship superhero team featuring the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman to have no trouble shattering the 1 billion dollar mark worldwide but it didn't even come close.

 

Critics pointed to a disjointed story, tonal and pacing problems, and other fundamental issues with the film's writing that not even a last-minute course correction by Avengers director Joss Whedon, who stepped in when Helmer Zack Snyder had to depart due to a family tragedy, could solve.

 

Justice League struggled to a mere 657 million dollars worldwide gross on a lavish budget of 300 million dollars, which with marketing and other costs considered makes it the highest grossing flop of all time. It's speculated by industry insiders that Warner Brothers lost up to 100 million dollars on the movie and it's lukewarm reception has prompted a serious internal reappraisal

of the entire series' creative direction.

 

4. Spider-Man 3

 

Along with Fox Studios' X-Men films, Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man series went a long way toward establishing the look, tone and storytelling conventions of the modern superhero movie. Its first two instalments released, in 2002 and 2004 were met with widespread praise and boatloads of money.

 

For the third film in the series, Raimi planned to add a plethora of new villains including Sandman and fan-favourite Venom. Unfortunately, this meant that the film suffered from what is now commonly known as villain blow. Critics accused it of sluggish pacing related to its attempts to shoehorn in too many characters, and also noted that it lacked the humor and personality of the first

two entries.

 

Although the film performed well at the box office, grossing 890 million dollars worldwide, the creative stagnation was enough for Raimi to scrap plans for a fourth installment, allowing the series to be rebooted with a new cast and crew for 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man.

 

It goes to show that more money, villains, and storyline don't always translate to a terribly compelling film. Even its staggering earnings and ridiculous adjusted budget of 304 million dollars couldn't keep Spider-Man 3 from becoming the nail in the coffin of the series.

 

3. Titanic

 

For a dozen years after its 1997 release, James Cameron's historical epic Titanic reigned as the all-time highest-grossing film. It was the first movie to surpass a billion dollars at the box office, eventually ending up with a worldwide haul of 2.18 billion and 11 Oscars. It also made a household name out of Leonardo DiCaprio and prompted Cameron to famously proclaim himself king of the world.

 

But the iconic film was a major headache to bring to the screen. The 138-day filming schedule ballooned to 160 as various cast and crew were stricken with illnesses and infection from all of the time spent in ice-cold water. In a bizarre turn of events, Cameron and several others were poisoned by an irate crew member who spiked their food with the hardcore drug PCP, causing further delays. 20th Century Fox executives began to panic as production costs soared near the unprecedented 200 million dollar mark and the film's runtime threatened to exceed three hours which would lead to fewer screenings.

 

Through it all Cameron refused any and all suggestions to trim expenses or scenes and in the end the 195-minute film ended up costing over 1 million dollars per minute of screen time.  Of course, the suits at Fox ended up grateful they hadn't pulled the plug when Titanic proceeded to annihilate every box office record, but they could be forgiven for sweating a little during the production of the most expensive film ever made at the time. Cameron finally brought Titanic in for just over 200 million dollars or about 305 million in today's dollars.

 

2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

 

When Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl was released in 2003, filmgoers were understandably a bit sceptical about a big-budget pirate adventure which had historically not done well in modern Hollywood. But director Gore Verbinski whose success with 2002's, The Ring, had made him a hot property, delivered an entertaining ride. Johnny Depp's portrayal of the wisecracking Captain Jack Sparrow made audiences fall in love with the character overnight.

 

The film was a surprise box-office smash, meaning that sequels were in short order, with the next two instalments, Dead Man's Chest and at World's End being shot back-to-back. The two films were given separate budgets and although the 225 million dollars set aside for Dead Man's Chest was nothing to sneeze at, At World's End became the most expensive film of all time upon its release in 2007. Its 300 million dollar budget would translate to an astonishing 354 million in today's dollars, but its reign would be cut short by yet another sequel, On Stranger Tides.

 

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

 

The first Pirates of the Caribbean film not to be directed by Gore Verbinski left critics unimpressed. Audiences, however, were absolutely thrilled. Reviewers took the film to task for serious writing problems and the absence of Verbinski's sure-handed direction was noted. But Johnny Depp's charismatic presence and the film's eye-popping spectacle won over moviegoers.

 

In spite of the film's mixed reviews, On Stranger Tides shattered all kinds of box-office records upon its release, and it's a good thing it did because it took an absurd amount of money to make. The 106-day shoot employed state-of-the-art 3d cameras similar to those used to shoot James Cameron's superior technological achievement, Avatar.

 

10 different visual effect houses contributed to the movie's 1112 CGI assisted scenes, and Disney pulled out all of the stops to ensure that On Stranger Tides would be a feast for the eyes on a par with Cameron's reigning box-office champ.

 

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