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The Most Expensive Movies of All Time: Avatar, Avengers & More

From Avatar to Endgame, some of the most successful movies of all time were also the most expensive to make. Boardroom looks at the 10 biggest budgets in film history.

Think of the best film you’ve ever seen. Now try and guess just how much it cost to make.

Between the cinematography, lighting, scenery, and acting, you’re likely thinking just how costly it must have been for the production to come to life.

If the project performed well at the box office, then it’s money well spent, right? And considering its short-term success and long-term cultural relevance, perhaps the costs were worth it.

But these days, technology has permitted us to think more creatively in the film space.

Whether using artificial intelligence, CGI, or other technology to tell a story, the price tag to produce blockbusters has grown steeper and steeper.

Studios obviously allocate enough to meet expectations, but it’s nonetheless fascinating to see how much your favorite movie costs to make.

Let’s take a look at the most expensive movies ever made. And let’s be honest — a number of these won’t be the least bit surprising.

The 10 Most Expensive Movies of All Time

Movie budgets courtesy of The Numbers.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022): $460 million

  • Director: James Cameron
  • Studios: Lightstorm Entertainment, TSG Entertainment II

Avengers: Endgame (2019): $400 million

  • Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo
  • Studio: Marvel Studios

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011): $379 million

  • Director: Rob Marshall
  • Studios: Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) $365 million

  • Director: Joss Whedon
  • Studio: Marvel Studios

Fast X (2023) $340 million

  • Director: Louis Leterrier
  • Studios: Universal Pictures, Original Film, One Race Films, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, Perfect Storm Entertainment

Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens (2015) $306 million

  • Director: JJ Abrams
  • Studios: Lucasfilm Ltd., Bad Robot Productions

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) $300 million

  • Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo
  • Studio: Marvel Studios

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) $300 million

  • Director: Gore Verbinski
  • Studios: Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Justice League (2017) $300 million

  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Studios: Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films

Spectre (2015) $300 million

  • Director: Sam Mendes
  • Studios: Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Columbia Pictures, B24, Danjaq
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The biggest takeaway of this list is quite obvious: Most of these movies are adaptions of comic books featuring superheroes from Marvel and DC Comics.

Be honest, the thrill of watching your favorite superhero (or villain) get the blockbuster treatment is enough to taunt anyone’s curiosity. That being said, studios want to ensure they honor the feature, which means sparing no expense from start to finish.

Another element to consider is the worldwide success of these costly movies.

For example, Avengers: Endgame grossed $2.8 billion, while the most expensive film of all time, Avatar: The Way of Water, brought in $2.3 billion internationally.

That’s just the beginning for the franchise directed by James Cameron. According to Vulture, Avatar 3 is scheduled to release on December 19, 2025, Avatar 4 is coming on December 21, 2029, and (maybe?) the final installment, Avatar 5, will arrive on December 19, 2031.

If the 2022 sequel cost $460 million to create, is there a scenario where we’d see a project that cost a least a billion to develop? With each release, studios set a standard of what’s expected of the competition.

As the old saying goes — You have to spend money to make money.

At the moment, the Avatar franchise looks invincible. But, a new phase of Marvel is upon us, and that could just mean a continuation of its global domination and some new names to add to the list of most expensive movies of all time.

More Movies

About The Author
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.