List of most expensive films

This is a non-definitive list of the most expensive films, both non-adjusted (top) and adjusted (bottom) for inflation.

These lists contain only the films that are already released to the general public, and no films that are still in production, post-production or just announced films, for the reason that these costs can still change in the production process. Listed below is the negative cost: the costs of the actual filming, and not including promotional costs (i.e. advertisements, commercials, posters, etc.). Most studios, however, will not give a statement on the actual production costs, so only estimates by professional researchers and movie industry writers are available.

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Production budgets

Due to the secretive nature of film budgets it is not clear which film currently holds the record as the most expensive film ever made. Some charts have Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End in the top spot which had an estimated cost of $300 million[1] while others have Spider-Man 3 which was officially acknowledged to cost $258 million.[2] Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and its sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End were produced together on a combined budget of $450 million,[3] making it the most expensive production. More recently there have been reports that Avatar is the most expensive film ever made with speculation that it cost $280 million,[4] which if true would make it the most expensive single-film production.

Inflation also naturally contributes to increasing budget sizes and some charts take this into account, which often sees Cleopatra occupy the top position. Costing a then astronomical $44 million in 1963,[1] its cost adjusted for inflation usually ranges from $290[5]–$315 million[6] depending on the inflation measure used, and when it was applied. Russia’s War and Peace comprising of four parts and produced for $100 million in 1968 is sometimes cited as the most expensive production ever costing nearly $700 million accounting for inflation, dwarfing the $450 million cost of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels for a multi-film production.[7]

Most expensive productions

The charts are ordered by official budget amounts where they are known. Where the budget is not available the productions are charted by lower bound budget estimates. Only productions with a budget over $150 million U.S. dollars are listed here. Productions that cost $150 million or less are not included on the chart.

List of most expensive films
Rank Movie name Year Production costs in millions (est.)
01 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End 2007 $300m[1][8][nb 1]
02 Spider-Man 3 2007 $258m (official[2])
03 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009 $250m[9][10]
04 Avatar 2009 $237m (official[11][nb 2])
05 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 2008 $225m (official[17])
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 2006 $225m[1][18][nb 1]
07 X-Men: The Last Stand 2006 $210m[19][20]
08 Superman Returns 2006 $209m (official[21][nb 3])
09 King Kong 2005 $207m[22][23][24]
10 2012 2009 $200m (official[25])
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 2009 $200m (official[26])
Titanic 1997 $200m[2][27][28]
Spider-Man 2 2004 $200m[29][30]
Quantum of Solace 2008 $200m[31][32]
Terminator Salvation 2009 $200m[33][34]
16 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008 $185m[35][36][37]
The Dark Knight 2008 $185m[18][38][39]
18 The Golden Compass 2007 $180m (official[40][41])
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $180m[42][43][44]
Wall-E 2008 $180m[45][46]
21 Troy 2004 $175m (official[47])
Waterworld 1995 $175m[1][48][49]
Evan Almighty 2007 $175m[50][51][52]
Up 2009 $175m[53][54]
Disney’s A Christmas Carol 2009 $175m[55][56]
26 Wild Wild West 1999 $170m[57][58]
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 2003 $170m[59][60]
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 2009 $170m[61][62]
29 Sahara 2005 $160m (official[63])
Van Helsing 2004 $160m[64][65][66]
Poseidon 2006 $160m[67][68][69]
Shrek the Third 2007 $160m[70]
33 Alexander 2004 $155m[71][72]
List of most expensive multi-film productions
Rank Production name Year(s) Production costs in millions (est.)
01 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
2006–07 $450m[3][nb 1]
02 The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (3 parts) 2001-03 $285m[1]
03 The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
2003 $227m[nb 4]

Record-holders since 1963

This chart presents a list of the most expensive films and productions since 1963. The films and productions included here have all held the record as the most expensive film or production at the time of their release.

List of record-holders since 1963
Year Film Film costs in millions (est.) Production Production costs in millions (est.)
1963 Cleopatra $44m[1] Cleopatra $44m[1]
1968 War and Peace (4 parts) $100m[7]
1978 Superman $55m[79]
1988 Rambo III $58m[79]
1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit $70m[79]
1990 Die Hard 2 (joint record holder) $70m[79]
1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day $102m[80] Terminator 2: Judgment Day $102m[80]
1995 Waterworld $175m[1] Waterworld $175m[1]
1997 Titanic $200m[27] Titanic $200m[27]
2003 The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
$227m[nb 4]
2003 Lord of the Rings trilogy (3 parts) $285m[1]
2005 King Kong $207m[24]
2006 X-Men: The Last Stand $210m[19]
2007 Spider-Man 3 (official record holder) $258m[2]
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End $300m[1] Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
$450m[3][nb 1]

Most expensive productions (adjusted for inflation)

The two charts presented here by price comparison consumer website Know Your Money[6] and Forbes[5] magazine have had their budgets adjusted for 2008 and 2006 respectively. There is a strong correlation between the order of the two charts, and the slightly different order can be explained by differences in the estimations of the original budgets and the inflation measure used to convert the amounts to their equivalent present day value. Since the Forbes chart was compiled, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Spider-Man 3 and Quantum of Solace have been released and are included in the more recent Know Your Money chart. The most striking omission from the Know Your Money chart is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest which is highly placed on the Forbes chart, ranking higher than some of the films that feature on the Know Your Money chart.

List of most expensive films, inflation adjusted
KYM rank  ↓ Forbes rank  ↓ Movie name  ↓ Year  ↓ Production costs (KYM est. 2008)  ↓ Production costs (Forbes est. 2006)  ↓
1 n/a Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End 2007 $316.6m n/a
2 1 Cleopatra 1963 $314.6m $290,200,000
3 2 Superman Returns 2006 $294.6m $268,500,000
4 3 Titanic 1997 $272.6m $250,200,000
5 n/a Spider-Man 3 2007 $272.2m n/a
6 4 Waterworld 1995 $251.2m $231,600,000
7 6 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 2003 $237.8m $219,500,000
8 8 King Kong 2005 $231.9m $212,300,000
9 7 Spider-Man 2 2004 $231.6m $212,800,000
10 n/a Quantum of Solace 2008 $230.0m n/a
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 2006 $223,100,000
9 X-Men: The Last Stand 2006 $209,300,000
10 Wild Wild West 1999 $206,400,000
11 Speed 2: Cruise Control 1997 $201,400,000
12 The 13th Warrior 1999 $193,200,000
13 Troy 2004 $186,800,000
14 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2005 $184,600,000
15 The Polar Express 2004 $174,300,000
16= Armageddon 1998 $173,100,000
16= Lethal Weapon 4 1998 $173,100,000
18 Van Helsing 2004 $170,700,000
19 Superman 1978 $163,900,000[nb 5]
20 The Matrix Reloaded 2003 $165,000,000
21= Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 2003 $164,100,000
21= The Matrix Revolutions 2003 $164,100,000
23 The Perfect Storm 2000 $164,000,000
24 Alexander 2004 $163,800,000
25 The World Is Not Enough 1999 $161,900,000
Other notable budgets (adjusted for inflation)
Movie name Year Production costs adjusted for inflation (est.) Production costs (est.)
War and Peace (4 parts[7][81]) 1968 $700m (2007–08)[81][82][83] $100m[7][83]
Cleopatra 1963 $306m (2008)[1] $44m[1]
Metropolis 1927 $200m (2007)[84][85] 5.3m reichsmarks[86](p173)
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