King Kong (2005)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cost of production: $207 million USD
No stranger to behemoth budgets thanks to Lord of the Rings, Jackson’s lavish take on the ’30s classic initially had a budget of $150 million, but it climbed higher and higher. Most of the money was spent on Kong himself. What’s more, King Kong gradually became substantially longer than Universal had anticipated and the extra length (mostly due to special effects needed for a convincing 25-foot computer animated gorilla) increased the budget by a third.
Director: James Cameron
Cost of production: $237 million USD
It’s a well-known fact that movie studios like being creative with their accountancy, to limit the amount of tax they have to pay – the bigger the costs, the lower the tax bill. Avatar was no different. After a directorial run-up lasting 12 years, Cameron took an almighty leap into the third-dimension with his digitally-created new world, hiring WETA for special effects and using super-sleek 3D which took the medium of cinema to the next level. No surprise then, that this movie didn’t come cheap. Ninety hours went into the production of every single frame for the movie, of which there were a whopping 24 per second, creating cutting-edge CGI like none ever seen before.
Director: Sam Mendes
Cost of production: $245 million USD
Apparently, James Bond not only likes his martini shaken, not stirred, but also a colossal film budget. Due to the very nature of the series, filmmakers need to become more elaborate with their set pieces. In turn, producers reportedly had to make $650 million USD at the box office (after marketing expenses) just to break even. At the time, only one Bond film, Skyfall, had ever achieved such a feat.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, The Dark Knight Rises
Directors: Joss Whedon, David Yates, Zach Snyder, Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan
Cost of production: $250 million USD
Avengers: Age of Ultron, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies and The Dark Knight Rises share the title at number five. As we learned from all six huge spectacles, they don’t come cheap. The budget of of Age Of Ultron ballooned after the cast threatened to quit if their contractual demands (read: money) weren’t met, so Marvel had some serious work cut out for them if they wanted all the big names back on board for the Avengers sequel – all of whom were reportedly looking for $5 million on the table and a cut of the post-release profits.