With the proper budget, filmmakers can bring virtually any scenario to life on screen. The production costs of the most expensive films of all time exceed what many films could ever expect to generate at the box office. Occasionally, these investments bear fruit. In other instances, they result in dissatisfaction for the filmmakers and studio.
According to NerdWallet, these are some of the greatest risks ever taken by Hollywood. Even after adjusting for inflation, the majority of the films on this list were released during the last two decades.
On Stranger Tides, the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, tops the list. Inflation-adjusted, the production of the fourth Pirates picture cost $422 million, which has not been surpassed since its release in 2011. The film did not earn more than any of the films in the original trilogy, but it made its money back with a worldwide box office gross of over $1 billion.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is also responsible for the third most costly film ever produced, with At World’s End costing an adjusted $362 million in 2007. The remaining three spots in the top five are filled by Marvel’s Avengers films, with Age of Ultron (2015) in second place, Endgame (2019) in fourth, and Infinity War (2018) in fifth. Titanic (1997), the only film on this list produced before the year 2000, would have cost $312 million to produce today.
Below is a complete list of the 10 most costly films ever filmed, along with their inflation-adjusted budgets. Check out the following list to see which high-budget films had the worst box office performances ever.
10 Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince (2009) // $292 Million
09 Tangled (2010) // $299 Million
An animated adaptation of a famous tale. The beautiful princess Rapunzel has been imprisoned in a tower ever since she was kidnapped as a baby by an old witch. Her long blonde hair possesses the potential to grant endless youth, and the evil Gothel exploits this ability to keep her youthful. Rapunzel grows interested in the outside world at the age of 18, and when a prince takes sanctuary in her tower, she asks him to help her escape.
08 Justice League (2017) // $307 Million
Bruce Wayne enlists his new partner Diana Prince to combat an even larger threat, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s altruistic gesture. Batman and Wonder Woman collaborate to rapidly assemble a team to combat this freshly awakened foe. Even though Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash have formed an unprecedented league of heroes, it may be too late to save the Earth from a cataclysmic attack.
07 Spider-man 3 (2007) // $312 Million
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) appear to have gotten their difficult relationship back on track, but peril looms for the superhero and his girlfriend. Peter’s Spider-Man costume turns black and seizes possession of him, not only enhancing Peter’s abilities but also bringing out his dark side. Peter must overcome the suit’s control as Sandman and Venom ascend to harm him and everyone he loves.
06 Titanic (1997) // $312 Million
“Titanic” is an epic, action-packed romance set against the doomed maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic, was the pride and joy of the White Star Line and, at the time, the largest moving thing ever created. She was the most opulent liner of her time, dubbed the “dream ship,” and ultimately took almost 1,500 people to their deaths in the icy waters of the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912.
05 Avengers: Infinity War (2018) // $316 Million
Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and the rest of the Avengers get together to confront Thanos, their most formidable foe to date. Thanos is on a journey to collect all six Infinity Stones to use them to impose his twisted will on reality. As the culmination of everything, the Avengers have fought for, the fate of the world and of life itself has never been more unclear.
04 Avengers: Endgame (2019) // $356 Million
Tony Stark, stranded in space without food or drink, sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply begins to deplete. The remaining Avengers, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, and Bruce Banner, must find a means to resurrect their fallen comrades for an epic clash with Thanos, the malevolent demigod who obliterated the Earth and the universe.
03 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) // $362 Million
Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) team up with Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to liberate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from Davy Jones’ locker. In the meantime, the crew of the Flying Dutchman wreaks havoc across the Seven Seas. The pals must travel perilous waters to encounter the Chinese pirate Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), and finally, they must choose sides in a battle where the lives of the pirates are at stake.
02 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) // $386 Million
Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) access to the Tesseract’s (Samuel L. Jackson) limitless power prompts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., to launch a superhero recruitment campaign to combat the unprecedented threat to Earth. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) join Nick Fury’s “dream team” (Jeremy Renner).
01 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) // $422 Million
Without a ship or crew, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) arrives at Port Royal in the Caribbean. However, his timing is unfortunate, as later that evening a pirate ship will besiege the town. The pirates capture Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), the daughter of the governor, who has a priceless coin tied to a curse that has changed the pirates into the undead. A valiant blacksmith in love with Elizabeth (Orlando Bloom) joins Sparrow in his pursuit of the pirates.