See If These 20 Most Expensive Movies Made In The Past Decade are Worth It

In a bid to satisfy the increasing appetites of movie critics and viewers and also outdo their previous performances, filmmakers, over the past decade, have spent eye-watering amounts to make the best movies. A large chunk of the million-dollar budget usually goes to the special effects team, whose duty is to create outstanding visuals and sounds. A cast with a handful of ace actors also doesn’t come cheap.

Other factors include equipment, sets, and props, but in a nutshell, the two major factors responsible for the ever-increasing movie budgets are labor and technology. For example, filming in 3D further surges the costs. Unfortunately, a big budget isn’t directly proportional to box office success as some of these expensive movies have turned out to flop, much to the disappointment of their makers.

Let’s take you through a list of 20 most expensive movies made within the past decade and their box office returns. See for yourself which ones are worth it. The prices, which exclude marketing costs, are unadjusted for inflation.

20. Men In Black 3 (2012)

  • Budget: $215 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $624 million
  • Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
  • Ratings: 6.8/10 (IMDB), 68% (Rotten Tomatoes), 58% (Metacritic)

Men In Black 3

A decade after the first sequel, Men In Black 2, was released, Barry Sonnenfeld and Steven Spielberg came back with the second and last sequel, Men In Black 3, which is the most successful of all box office-wise. The film stars A-List actors, including Will Smith and Tommy Lee.

19. Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)

  • Budget: 215 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $493 million
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Ratings: 6.3/10 (IMDB), 57%(Rotten Tomatoes), 44% (Metacritic)

Oz The Great And Powerful 2013

Starring James Franco and Mila Kunis, this fantasy adventure movie was a commercial success. It revolves around a frustrated circus magician from Kansas who is transported to a magical land called Oz, where he will have to fulfill a prophecy to become the king and release the land from the Wicked Witches using his great (but fake) powers. In addition to its critical reception, it also fetched Mila Kunis an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.

18. The Avengers (2012)

  • Budget: $220 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $1.5 billion
  • Director: Joss Whedon
  • Ratings: 8/10 (IMDB), 92% (Rotten Tomatoes), 69% (Metacritic)

The Avengers 2012

The Marvel production enjoyed all-round success- critically and at the box office. The visual effects blew viewers away, and the handful of ace actors only made it more interesting. Thanks to its success and that of its numerous sequels, Robert Downey Jr. its main character is the world’s highest-paid actor for three years and counting.

17. The Lone Ranger (2013)

  • Budget: $225 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $261 million
  • Director: Gore Verbinski
  • Ratings: 6.4/10 (IMDB), 30% (Rotten Tomatoes), 37% (Metacritic)

The Lone Ranger 2013

This was the first theatrical film featuring the Lone Ranger and Tonto (Johnny Depp) character in over three decades. The movie had an additional marketing budget of $150 million, grossing $261 million, which obviously makes it a flop. However, it won two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Hairstyling.

16. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

  • Budget: $225 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $420 million
  • Director: Andrew Adamson
  • Ratings: 6.5/10 (IMDB), 67% (Rotten Tomatoes), 62 (Metacritic)

The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian, 2008

This was the last Narnia film produced by Walt Disney, the next in chronology- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was distributed by Century Fox and was also a success. It was among 2008’s top 10 highest-grossing films worldwide.

15. Man of Steel (2013)

  • Budget: $225 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $668 million
  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Ratings: 7/10 (IMDB), 56% (Rotten Tomatoes), 55% (Metacritic)

Man of Steel 2013

Man of Steel is a reboot of The Superman film series, which tells Clark Kent’s origin story. Its follow-up, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, hit the theaters on 25th March 2016. And just like its sequel, Man of Steel garnered positive reviews and was commercially successful, grossing $668 million from a budget of $225 million.

14. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

  • Budget: $225 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $1.066 billion
  • Director: Gore Verbinski
  • Ratings: 7.3/10 (IMDB), 53% (Rotten Tomatoes), 53% (Metacritic)

Pirates of The Caribbean Dead Man's Chest

Dead Man’s Chest is the second installation and first sequel to the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). Its success at the box office set a record at the time for the fastest movie to gross over $1 billion. From a budget of $255 million, this movie grossed $1.066 billion at the box office.

13. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

  • Budget: $230 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $758 million
  • Director: Marc Webb
  • Ratings: 6.9/10 (IMDB), 73% (Rotten Tomatoes), 66% (Metacritic)

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comic character, Spider-Man. It is the fourth theatrical Spider-Man film and a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise as directed by Marc Webb. The previous ones from 2002 to 2007 were directed by Sam Raimi.

12. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

  • Budget: $230 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $1.085 billion
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Ratings: 8.4/10 (IMDB), 87% (Rotten Tomatoes), 78% (Metacritic)

Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is the last of the Batman trilogy by Christopher Nolan. It was also the most expensive to make out of the three. Like its predecessor, The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises grossed over a billion and is the fourth highest-grossing superhero movie.

11. Avatar (2009)

  • Budget: $237 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $2.788 billion
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Ratings: 7.8/10 (IMDB), 82% (Rotten Tomatoes), 83% (Metacritic)


James Cameron is, no doubt, a filmmaker in a league of his own; the Titanic maker stunned yet again with Avatar, which has the best visual effect yet and is still the highest-grossing film of all time, not even Star Wars: The Force Awakens could beat its record, contrary to speculations. The world eagerly awaits the release of the first sequel scheduled for December 2020, Cameron also plans to take Avatar up to a fourth sequel with the last one set to be released in 2025.

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10. Spectre (2015)

  • Budget: $245 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $881 million
  • Director: Sam Mendes
  • Ratings: 6.8/10 (IMDB), 63% (Rotten Tomatoes), 60% (Metacritic)


Spectre is the most expensive James Bond film ever made, and the second most grossing one after Skyfall. Daniel Craig reprised the Bond role yet again, making it his fourth performance for the series. The makers have promised a sequel to the movie, No Time to Die, which is expected to hit the screens in 2021.

9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

  • Budget: $250 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $934 million
  • Director: David Yates
  • Ratings: 7.6/10 (IMDB), 84% (Rotten Tomatoes), 78% (Metacritic)

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 1

Half-Blood Prince is the sixth and penultimate installment of J.K Rowling‘s novel of the same name. It was also the most expensive to make out of the 7 sequels. In this movie, David Yates, who started directing the franchise with Order of the Phoenix, did a great job in creating a mature, relationship-focused masterpiece that set the stage for the final installment. The film was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

8. Batman V Super-Man: Dawn of Justice (2016)

  • Budget: $250 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $866 million
  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Ratings: 6.4/10 (IMDB), 28% (Rotten Tomatoes), 44% (Metacritic)

Batman V Super-Man Dawn of Justice

This is the second installment of the rebooted Superman film series, as well as the first live-action film to feature Superman and Batman together. It also features other superheroes such as Wonder Woman and others. It revolves around Lex Luthor, a criminal mastermind, as he manipulates Batman into a preemptive battle with Superman, whom Luthor is obsessed with. This film had positive reviews and was commercially successful.

7. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

  • Budget: $250 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $956 million
  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Ratings: 7.4/10 IMDB, 59% (Rotten Tomatoes), 59% (Rotten Tomatoes)

The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies

The Battle of Five Armies is the third and final installment of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit written by J.R. Tolkien. It is also a prequel to the critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It was the second highest-grossing film of 2014.

6. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

  • Budget: $250 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $1.405 billion
  • Director: Joss Whedon
  • Ratings: 7.3/10 (IMDB), 73% (Rotten Tomatoes), 66% (Metacritic)

Avengers Age of Ultron

After the success of the first Avengers movie in 2012, Marvel Comics proceeded to make this sequel, which was a hundred million less successful than the first. The subsequent sequels, Avengers: Infinity Wars and Avengers: End Game, which was released in 2018 and 2019, respectively, also had a higher production budget, and they performed excellently at the box office.

5. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

  • Budget: $258 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $891 million
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Ratings: 6.2/10 (IMDB), 62% (Rotten Tomatoes), 59% (Metacritic)

Spider-Man 3 2007

Spider-Man 3 currently stands as the most expensive superhero movie yet. It is the last of Sam Raimi’s trilogy before Marc Webb took up the directorial role of the reboot, Amazing Spider-Man, released in 2014. It grossed a massive $891 million from a budget of $258 million, as well as other accolades.

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4. Tangled (2010)

  • Budget: $260 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $592 million
  • Directors: Byron Howard, Nathan Greno
  • Ratings: 7.7/10 (IMDB), 89% (Rotten Tomatoes), 71% (Metacritic)

Tangled 2

Tangled is, without a doubt, the most expensive animated film ever made. The movie is the adaptation of the German fairy tale, Rapunzel, in the collection of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm. Critics, as well as viewers, left positive reviews for the movie as evident in its box office success.

3. John Carter (2012)

  • Budget: $264 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $284 million
  • Director: Andrew Stanton
  • Ratings: 6.6/10 (IMDB), 52% (Rotten Tomatoes), 51% (Metacritic)

John Carter is the biggest flop on this list. Its $284 million box office gross didn’t even meet up the production and marketing cost of $350 million. The science-fiction movie is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first book in his Barsoom Series- A Princess of Mars.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

  • Budget: $300 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $963 million
  • Director: Gore Verbinski
  • Ratings: 7.1/10 (IMDB), 44% (Rotten Tomatoes), 50% (Metacritic)

Pirates of the Caribbean at World's End

At World’s End is the third installment of The Pirates of the Caribbean film series and the last to be directed by Gore Verbinski. At the time of its release, the movie was the most expensive movie ever made. It was met by mixed critical reviews, with some complaining about its long-running time and plot. However, it was praised for its special effects, performances, and musical score.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

  • Budget: $378 million
  • Worldwide Gross: $1.046 billion
  • Director: Rob Marshall
  • Ratings: 6.6/10 (IMDB), 33% (Rotten Tomatoes), 45% (Metacritic).

Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides

The Pirates of the Caribbean’s fourth installment served as Rob Marshall’s debut directorial role in the film series. The filming utilized the same 3D filming technology that was used for Avatar and the special effects involved 10 different companies. A sequel and fifth installment, Pirates of the CaribbeanDead Men Tell No Tales, was released in 2017. Johnny Depp once again reprised his role as Captain Jack Sparrow.


Here’s a quick look at the 20 most expensive movies made in the past decade:

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
  3. John Carter (2012)
  4. Tangled (2010)
  5. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  7. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
  8. Batman V Super-Man: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  10. Spectre (2015)
  11. Avatar (2009)
  12. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  13. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
  14. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
  15. Man of Steel (2013)
  16. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
  17. The Lone Ranger (2013)
  18. The Avengers (2012)
  19. Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)
  20. Men In Black 3 (2012)
Uwa Echebiri
Uwa Echebiri
Uwa has extensive professional writing and editing experience including report and technical writing, product reviews, informational and persuasive articles, creative and content writing on nearly any topic, from entertainment to lifestyle, finance, sports and more. As a lifelong movie buff, Uwa is either bingeing on new movies during leisure, or giving someone a whopping on the latest FIFA edition


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