Many of the blockbuster films you’ve seen on the big screen also had big budgets ranging from $300 million to $460 million each.
It takes hundreds of people to make cinematic magic happen—from actors to sound engineers, creating a motion picture film is no simple task. In the same vein, studios need a big budget to support this creative process and produce high quality movies.
This isn’t to say that exorbitant budgets determine the excellence of a film. Even if a movie has huge financial support, this doesn’t guarantee its success in the box office but having enough financial support to bring a vision to life certainly helps.
Most major studio movies have an average budget of $100 million, but some have exceeded this already impressive value. These amounts are usually a combination of production, distribution, and marketing costs. The expenses of a film also increase if it has highly sought-after actors and requires a lot of special effects or advanced equipment for production, according to the Nashville FIlm Institute.
For those who want to know, below are five films that broke records with their jaw-dropping budgets:
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
The sequel to James Cameron’s Avatar franchise had an estimated budget of around $460 million—excluding its more than $100 million in marketing costs. It’s now one of the most expensive movies ever produced, beating the first Avatar by more than $200 million.
This makes sense, considering how the filmmaker and his team pulled out all the stops to create a movie that would outperform its predecessor. Luckily, it all paid off, as the sequel managed to break even with a gross $2.3 billion worldwide.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Disney quickly greenlit Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides after the success of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It would prove to be a powerful addition to the franchise thanks to stellar performances from its star-studded cast, revolutionary special effects, and complex scenes filmed by the sea. As expected, the creative endeavor set a record with its budget of $379 million.
While it wasn’t widely favored by fans and critics—at least compared to the rest of the trilogy—it still raked in over $1 billion in box office sales.
The Avengers Movies (Age of Ultron, Endgame, and Infinity War)
Superhero movies, in general, tend to have high budgets due to the amount of special effects they use. Marvel took it to a whole new level with its last three Avengers films, which all had budgets in the $300 million range.
Breaking it down to specifics, Avengers: Age of Ultron had a budget of $365 million, Avengers: Infinity War had a budget of $316 million, and Avengers: Endgame’s production cost $356 million. Though Age of Ultron didn’t meet the high expectations of viewers, it managed to make the list of the highest grossing films of all time.
The last two movies in the series, however, delighted and surprised audiences with their dark yet emotional storylines. In fact, Endgame was the highest grossing film in the world before Avatar: The Way of Water superseded it.
Justice League (2017)
The complicated story behind 2017’s Justice League is partly the reason why the film had a budget of $300 million. Filmmaker Zack Snyder already shot a considerable portion of the film before leaving the production in 2017.
Afterwards, Joss Whedon took over to oversee the movie’s completion. During the process, Whedon asked to have many of the film’s original scenes cut and redone in line with his creative vision. Sadly, the movie wasn’t very well received by fans, who demanded to see Snyder’s unreleased version.
Warner Bros. complied, deciding to release the Snyder cut through the streaming service HBO Max in 2021. The move of releasing this alternative version required additional money, which further added to the film’s already hefty budget. Thankfully, Snyder’s version garnered better ratings with a 71% critic score at Rotten Tomatoes—a far cry from Whedon’s movie, which sadly got a 39% rating from critics.
Banner photo by Avel Chuklanov via Unsplash.