UPDATE: Thanks to a reader I’ve added Speed 2 to the list, if you find more that should be added let me know and we’ll see if we can make this a little more accurate.
In today’s Hollywood, movies don’t seem to exist first and foremost as pieces of entertainment or as even great stories to be told. Yes, you could argue that as far back as the studio system has existed it’s been a “business first” attitude, but a focus on budgets, box office and salaries seems to be at an all-time high. If you disagree, fair enough, but as a willing participant in such coverage I’m also somewhat ashamed to admit I think the heavy focus negatively effects the kind of movies we get.
So, what am I going to do? I’m going to give it even more coverage.
Business Insider has posted a list of the 30 most expense movies ever made (plus a few additions/corrections from me), using data from IMDB and Box Office Mojo as well as adjusting for inflation. Here goes:
What I find notable about the list is the fact it contains three Spider-Man movies, all three Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, two James Cameron films and other than that, I guess it’s a matter of surprise as a result of a film’s absence. It’s also clear they didn’t go into this year’s films or weren’t comfortable guesstimating The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s budget, which is said to be around $250 million with about another $180 million in marketing.
Also, Tangled is the only animated film on the list (and largely because of how long it took to get the story right and it’s years of pre-production), though with Toy Story 3‘s $200 million budget in 2010 I think it would be pretty close to making the bottom of that list at $218.2 million. In fact, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Iron Man 2, Robin Hood and Alice in Wonderland all cost $200 million in 2010 and would probably find their way into the bottom of the list.
It’s also staggering to see Cleopatra so high on that list and if you’re thinking to yourself, “What about a film such as Gone with the Wind?” Gone with the Wind was made for something like $3.5 million back in 1939, which would be somewhere around $65.8 million in today’s dollars, which is to say not even enough to make Divergent and you’d only have $5.8 million for marketing if you made The LEGO Movie. If you want to dig in to that Cleopatra production, let me just recommend this “Vanity Fair” article, it’s excellent.
It’s for these reasons we talk about budgets and box office. It’s out of control nowadays and other than about four films before 2003, 26 of those films are from the last ten years… and that’s adjusting for inflation. Hell, even Terminator 2: Judgment Day would only cost $178.1 million in today’s dollars and that thing was breaking the bank in 1991.