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Top 10 Expensive Action Movies Ever Made

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Written by Adam Zenobi The production budget of these action movies ran so high, the filmmakers must have known they were taking a gamble, but did it pay off? WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Action Movies That Cost the Most To Make! But what will take the top spot on our list? The final entry in "The Hobbit" franchise, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides", or "The Fate of the Furious"? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: WatchMojo.com Big thanks to governmentfree for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Expensive+Action+Movies+Ever+Made
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Hey, all that property damage and all those explosions don’t come cheap! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Expensive Action Movies Ever Made.

For this list, we’re focusing on traditional action movies – as in, not superhero movies or straight up sci-fi films – and ranking our picks based on the reported production cost of each film.

#10: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)
Budget: $150 million

Max Rockatansky’s long-awaited return to the wasteland did not come cheap. Even though his world is primarily built using what looks like garbage and scrap metal, the 2015 entry in this George Miller franchise cost a reported $150 million to make. Much of that money was spent on the film’s practical effects, with fully functioning cars built specifically for the movie in addition to a massive cast and crew to help oversee everything. That means Furiosa’s War Rig and Immortan Joe’s army, including that guy’s flaming guitar, were all created using real vehicles and props. And, as it turns out, that was money well spent, as “Fury Road” was both a critical and commercial darling.

#9: “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014)
Budget: $178 million

Who woulda thought that filming someone reliving the same moment over and over again could be so pricey? Well, when that person is Tom Cruise and he’s in a militaristic action film involving time travel, robot suits and – you guessed it – explosions galore, it is. The $178 million budget went towards constructing the giant mech suits for Cruise and co-star Emily Blunt and creating the film’s futuristic world, which included building a beach set for the film’s climax – as opposed to, y’know, just filming on a real beach. While “Edge of Tomorrow” didn’t perform as well as hoped at the box office, it did do well enough to warrant a planned sequel.

#8: “World War Z” (2013)
Budget: $190 million

This action horror extravaganza holds the distinction of being the most expensive zombie movie ever made. But hey, you gotta pay for all that blood and all those brains somehow, right? “World War Z” originally had slightly more modest budget, but it increased to $190 million due to problems with the film’s third act – and completely rewriting and reshooting a third of the film is going to be pricey no matter which way you slice it. Luckily the film was a commercial success, pulling in $540 million at the box office and becoming Brad Pitt’s highest-grossing film to that point. However, most of the criticism levied at the film was directed at… its third act.

#7: “Terminator Salvation” (2009)
Budget: $200 million

The fourth film in the “Terminator” franchise was also the most expensive. Yeah, apparently, bringing the post-apocalyptic fight between humans and machines to the year 2018 cost a reported $200 million. Much of that budget went towards elaborately constructed sets and practical effects, as director McG wanted to use as little CGI as possible. This means that set pieces like the Terminator factory were built specifically for the film. However, “Salvation”’s visual integrity did not translate into success: it received mixed reviews and didn’t perform to the studio’s expectations. What’s more, it’s generally the “Terminator” film that gets the most hate – unless you count the reboot film, “Genisys,” that is.

#6: “King Kong” (2005)
Budget: $207 million

Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” was an expensive love letter to the original film and epic monster movies of old, with reported costs apparently reaching the $207 million range – despite an initial budget projection of $150 million. As you can imagine, a lot of that cash went into creating the big ape himself, with Kong being animated using state-of-the-art special effects. Making things even more expensive was the fact that Jackson extended the film’s length by 30 minutes, meaning Kong needed to be animated throughout the film’s 3 hour running time. Being a dedicated filmmaker, Jackson covered the extra costs himself. No one needed to worry however: “King Kong” was a box office success.

#5: “Spectre” (2015)
Budget: $245-250 million

Past Bond films carried hefty price tags – for example, “Quantum of Solace” rang in at $200 million. But “Spectre” proved to be the most expensive Bond film yet, with a reported budget of between $245-$250 million. A lot of that extra dough went towards raising the salaries of returning star Daniel Craig and returning director Sam Mendes. Plus, there were the stunts: “Spectre”’s car budget alone was almost $50 million, with a record seven Ashton Martins smashed during the filming of a car chase in Rome. The senseless destruction of all those cars was not in vain however, as the 24th Bond installment pulled in an impressive $880 million at the box office.

#4: “The Lone Ranger” (2013)
Budget: $225-$250 million

It was the Lone Ranger’s first big screen adventure in over three decades, so Disney decided it was worth some extra loot. However, Gore Verbinski’s reimagining of iconic the cowboy serial ultimately cost between $225-$250 million. Considering the filmmakers originally told Disney it’d cost $70 million, we’re not surprised they almost pulled the plug. But alas, they didn’t, and much of the budget was eaten up by set pieces, including the ambitious construction of an Old West and a five-mile track so action sequences could be performed on real moving trains. Did the investment pay off? Well, if you consider bad reviews, accusations of racism and not recouping the overall budget a success, then sure.

#3: “The Fate of the Furious” (2017)
Budget: $250 million

The eighth entry in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise raced into theatres carrying a hefty price tag of $250 million dollars. Much of the budget was spent on the film’s practical stunts, which required the destruction of real cars. While Dom’s Charger jumping over a simulated submarine is pretty badass, the scene where Charlize Theron’s villainous Cipher hacks several cars in a parking garage and sends them after Hobbs and Letty must’ve cost a pretty penny. After all, the cars fly out of the garage and crash to the pavement. Don’t worry, though: the senseless destruction of all those cars paid off, as “The Fate of the Furious” pulled in over a billion dollars at the box office.

#2: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (2014)
Budget: $250 million

All three “Hobbit” films rank within the top 50 most expensive movies ever made, and on the whole they’re the priciest back-to-back film productions in history, ringing in at $623 million total. But “The Battle of the Five Armies” dwarfed the other films’ budgets, costing roughly $250 million. That huge cost was due in large part to the way the movies were filmed: Peter Jackson chose to shoot in 3D, with 5K resolution and at 48 frames per second – as opposed to the regular 24fps. But, you can’t argue with the results; the battle scenes really pop. Fortunately, the film grossed $956 million at the box office, successfully ending Jackson’s journey through the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “The A-Team” (2010)
Budget: $110 million

- “True Lies” (1994)
Budget: $100-120 million

- “Salt” (2010)
Budget: $110 million

#1: “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (2011)
Budget: $378.5 million

None of the “Pirates” films were cheap to produce, with some estimates placing “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” at $267 million and $347 million respectively – adjusted for inflation. But, the fourth installment planted its flag as not only the most expensive action movie ever made, but also the most expensive movie ever made period, with a reported budget ranging between $378-$410 million. $55 million of that was spent convincing Johnny Depp to step back into Captain Jack Sparrow’s boots, while other aspects of the film – including shooting locations and schedule – were scaled back to cut costs. Ultimately, audiences showed they can’t get enough Jack Sparrow: “On Stranger Tides” made over a billion dollars.
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