When you take a look at the most expensive movies ever made, it’s quite surprising to see how many of them are mediocre or actually pretty terrible. I guess it’s proof that money doesn’t buy quality, but really, shouldn’t it buy at least a little bit? I picked out what I thought were the 15 worst most expensive movies ever made and lined them up in order of how awful they are. Yes, bein awful is subjective and I’m sure you’ll disagree with me, but such is our way here on TVOvermind. I’ll also tell you that it’s still too early to put Batman V Superman on this list. But believe me, that’s the movie that inspired this list.
You’ll be surprised to see that even though most of these movies are pretty awful, nearly all of them made their massive budgets back, mostly thanks to distribution overseas, which is included in the “Made” stat.
15 and 14. Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End
Cost: $225M & $300M
Made: $1.1B & $960M
Terrible factor (lower is better): 3
Yeah we’re doing a double feature here as the two are essentially the same movie. Not only were most of the sets CGI, but the half the cast was too, and without a solid direction, the two sequels to the original Pirates seemed unnecessary and tacked on.
13. King Kong
Terrible factor: 4
Most of the money here was spent on Kong himself, and all the scenes with him in them are excellent. Unfortunately, when the humans start talking that’s where things start to go to hell. Jack Black, really?
12. Superman Returns
Terrible factor: 5
I’m really not quite sure why exactly this movie cost so much money. How much can it cost to make someone fly these days? We really did want a triumphant return for Superman, but when he finally did return to earth, we find out that he’s just kind of awkward and outdated.
11. The Golden Compass
Terrible factor: 5.5
The atheist’s Chronicles of Narnia just wasn’t as good as Chronicles of Narnia, which really wasn’t that good to begin with. The biggest crime of this film was that it somehow took Best Visual Effects from Transformers at the Oscars with its CGI polar bears.
10. Spiderman 3
Terrible factor: 6
Spiderman 3 sucks slightly less than most people think it does, but it’s still pretty awful nonetheless. Most people complain about Peter Parker’s transformation into a singing emo kid as the main plot point, but too many villains and perhaps too much reliance on CGI sunk the ship completely.
9. Terminator Salvation
Terrible factor: 6.5
The most recent addition to this list has made a lasting impression on disappointed fans everywhere with a phoned-in performance from Bale and horribly told story. Should I have put this on the list or T3 instead? I’m not even sure. Genesis was no picnic either.
8. Van Helsing
Terrible factor: 6.75
It was a pretty damn big gamble to sink this much money into Van Helsing, even though Hugh Jackman was currently beloved at the time as Wolverine. The movie was simply just not good, but it is slightly better than its similarly themed brethren, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and The Brothers Grimm.
7. X-Men: The Last Stand
Terrible factor: 7
This first of two Brett Ratner films on the list, the man knows how to take a bunch of money, and waste it all on useless crap. If he had focused more on the story than CGIing 50 different mutants powers, this would have been a much better movie.
Terrible factor: 7.5
One of the only films on the list not heavy on the CGI, Oliver Stone’s Alexander was full of admittedly beautiful costumes and sets, but the story was long and rambling, Colin Farrell looked weird blond and Jared Leto was just flat out terrifying.
5. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Terrible factor: 8.5
The franchise that no one asks for, yet continues to get made, The Mummy series throws money at CGI skeletons and zombies, but forgets that you can’t have a good action series led by Brendan Fraiser. Jet Li, what were you doing in this movie?
Terrible factor: 9.5
What if we re-made Titanic, but instead it’s modern day, the boat flips upside down and we have Fergie? Good idea? Sure. Oh, and make sure to have it cost the same amount too.
3. Rush Hour 3
Terrible factor: 9.75
There is absolutely nothing about this movie that should have cost $140M. Clearly the writers were paid in peanuts, since they were all trained monkeys, and unless Brett Ratner had to shell out $100M to film at the Eifel Tower, he threw millions away God knows where in this movie.
Terrible factor: 10
I was stunned to see just how much this movie cost, and it’s the only one on the list that never recouped its budget, even with overseas grosses included. Sahara had the misfortune of being A) a terrible idea B) a subsequently terrible movie and C) so poorly marketed, no one even caught a glimpse at what exactly cost $160M in the film.
Terrible factor: 11
Universally regarded as one of the worst conceived and executed movies ever, Waterworld tops our list. Keep in mind those are 1995 dollars too, so it actually cost about $270 million in today’s numbers. Thankfully Kevin Costner survived the disaster, as evidenced by the fact that he’s now doing commercials for Turkish Air.
Surprising Omission: I was completely ready to put The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones on here, but George Lucas, Mr. 100% CGI himself, knows how to make epic movies on a budget, as the budget of those two films was about $115M apiece.
Also: Having just seen Transformers 2 hours ago, I would add that to the list without a doubt. Ah-trocious. And I won’t even mention that John something movie from Disney. What in God’s name was that?