Imagine spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make a movie… and then watching it fall flat at the box office. While there are some hits on this list of the 25 most expensive films ever made, they are sprinkled among an overwhelming number of duds. So, what goes wrong when production houses pull out the big bucks?
Time and time again, it seems that attention that should have been focused on the story gets redirected to an A-list cast, special effects, and expensive filming locations. On the flip side, some films that only had a budget of a few thousand dollars and a great script — 1979’s Mad Max, Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Napoleon Dynamite — turned out to be major box office hits. As much as audiences love stuff getting blown up, they love a good story even more.
Using data from IMDb and the United States Consumer Price Index, we’ve adjusted the following budgets for inflation, so you can see how much they would cost to make today. As for how often a multi-million dollar film budget is actually worth it? We’ll let you be the judge…
25. 2012 – $221 million
An all-star cast led by John Cusack and Amanda Peet helped make 2012 one of 2009’s highest-grossing films, but as for its staying power… well, the fear of the Mayan calendar predicting the world’s end feels pretty silly now, right? However, if you’re into major special effects that include entire cities being washed away and firey plane wrecks, it’s worth a watch.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 39%