To date, what is the most expensive movie ever made?
Due to the secretive nature of Hollywood accounting it is not clear which film is the most expensive film ever made. Spider-Man 3 officially holds the record with an acknowledged cost of $258 million, while Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and its sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End were produced together on a combined budget of $450 million, making them the most expensive production. Although the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels shared many costs it is estimated that around $300 million was spent on producing At World's End. More recently there have been reports that Avatar is the most expensive film ever made with speculation that it cost $280 million.
The cost of film production was mostly stable prior to World War II, with Ben-Hur (1925) setting an early record, which lasted well into the sound era. Costs started to escalate due to the effects of inflation and as television started to compete with the cinema for audiences, culminating in 1963 with Cleopatra which did not earn back its production costs despite being the highest earning film of the year. The 1990s saw two thresholds crossed, with True Lies costing $100 million in 1994 and Titanic costing $200 million in 1997, both directed by James Cameron. Since then it has become normal for a tent-pole feature from a major film studio to cost over $100 million, and an increasing number of films are costing $200 million or more.
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