In a bid to satisfy the increasing appetites of movie critics and viewers alike, and also outdo their previous performances, filmmakers, over the past decade, have spent eye-watering amounts in order to make the best of 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 labour and technology. For example, filming in 3D further surges the costs. Unfortunately, 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 were 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

Men In Black 3

A decade after the first sequel Men In Black 2 was released, Barry Sonnenfeld and Steven Speilberg came back with the second and last sequel Men In Black 3 which is the most successful of all box office wise. Ace actors include Will Smith and Tommy Lee.

19. Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)

Budget: 215 million

Worldwide Gross: $493 million

Oz The Great And Powerful 2013

Starring James Franco and Mila Kunis, this fantasy adventure movie was a commercial success. My favorite character? The flying, talking monkey.

18. The Avengers (2012)

Budget: $220 million

Worldwide Gross: $1.5 billion

The Avengers 2012

The Marvel production enjoyed all round success- critically and in 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

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

The Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian, 2008

This was the last Narnia film produced by Walt Disney, the next 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 film worldwide.

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15. Man of Steel (2013)

Budget: $225 million

Worldwide Gross: $668 million

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.

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

Budget: $225 million

Worldwide Gross: $1.066 billion

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 Series. Its success at the box office set a record at the time for the fastest movie to gross over $1 billion.

13. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Budget: $230 million

Worldwide Gross: $758 million

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man is the fourth theatrical Spider-Man film and a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise as directed by Marc Webb. The previous ones 2002-2007 were directed by Sam Rami.

12. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Budget: $230 million

Worldwide Gross: $1.085 billion

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


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 2018, Cameron also plans to take Avatar up to a fourth sequel with the last one set to be released in 2023.

10. Spectre (2015)

$245 million

Worldwide Gross: $881 million


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.

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

Budget: $250 million

Worldwide Gross: $934 million

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 1

Half-Blood Prince is the sixth and penultimate instalment of J.K Rowling‘s novel of the same name. It was also the most expensive to make out of the 7 sequels.

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

Budget: $250 million

Worldwide Gross: $866 million

Batman V Super-Man Dawn of Justice

This is the second instalment of the rebooted Superman film series. It is the first live-action film to feature Superman and Batman together.

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

Budget: $250 million

Worldwide Gross: $956 million

The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies

The Battle of Five Armies is the third and final instalment 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

Avengers Age of Ultron

After the success of first Avengers movie in 2012, Marvel Comics proceeded to make this sequel which was a hundred million less successful than the first. Rumor has it that the subsequent sequels Avengers: Infinity Wars Part 1 & 2 set to release in 2018 and 2019 respectively could have a budget of $500 million each.

5. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Budget: $258 million

Worldwide Gross: $891 million

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.

4. Tangled (2010)

Budget: $260 million

Worldwide Gross: $592 million

Tangled 2

Tangled is without a doubt the most expensive animated film ever made. Tangled is the adaptation of the German fairy tale Rapunzel. 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

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

Pirates of the Caribbean at World's End

At World’s End is the third installment of the 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. The movie 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

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 is scheduled to be released in 2017. Johnny Depp would again reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow.

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