The 15 Most Massively Expensive Yet Awful Movies Ever


When you take a look at the most expensive movies ever made, it’s quite surprisingly 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 much they suck. Yes, sucking is subjective and I’m sure you’ll disagree with me, but such is our way here at Unreality.

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 &14) Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End


Cost: $225M & $300M

Made: $1.1B & $960M

Suck 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


Cost: $207M

Made: $550M

Suck 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 is where things start to go to hell. Jack Black, really?

12) Superman Returns


Cost: $204M

Made: $390M

Suck 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triumphant return for Superman, but when he finally did return to earth, we find out that he’s just kind of awkward and outdated.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


Cost: $180M

Made: $372M

Suck 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


Cost: $258M

Made: $890M

Suck 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


Cost: $200M

Made: $321M

Suck 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.

8) Van Helsing


Cost: $160M

Made: $300M

Suck 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


Cost: $210M

Made: $460M

Suck 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.

6) Alexander


Cost: $155M

Made: $167M

Suck 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


Cost: $145M

Made: $401M

Suck 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?

4) Poseidon


Cost: $160M

Made: $181M

Suck 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


Cost: $140M

Made: $260M

Suck 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.

2) Sahara


Cost: $160M

Made: $119M

Suck 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.

1) Waterworld


Cost: $175M

Made: $264M

Suck 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.

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  1. Oddly enough Poseidon wasn’t a remake of Titanic (I know that was sarcasm) it was a remake of The Poseidon Adventure, which was a 70’s action flick that’s pretty much the same as the more recent one. I’ve never seen the original but it’s supposed to be a pretty decent movie, and one that probably never should have been remade.

  2. People are way too hard on Waterworld; that movie is nowhere near as awful as people claim. It’s an interesting concept and executed pretty well. People like to point out how expensive it was, which seems to be the main criticism, which isn’t much of a criticism at all.

    You should know how I feel about Kong by now; it’s a good movie, just that the first 45 minutes should have been cut.

    Superman Returns wasn’t that great, but for a superhero movie, the bar is let pretty low.

    The rest of those movies – especially the Pirates sequels – are horrible.

  3. X-Men: The Last Stand wasn’t that bad, it managed to give us great action sequences while following a solid story-line…unlike Transformers 2…ugh..

  4. Why does everyone think Van Helsing was sooo bad?!?! Sure, it wasn’t the best movie ever, but it was decent!! I’ve seen waaaaay worse movies about the same thing (like you said, the Brothers Grimm)!!

  5. I agree with most of these. I was disappointed with the suck level of “The Golden Compass” because the books are SO good and the movie was SO bad. And the “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequels make me sad because the first one was such a fun surprise. Like – who would have ever thought a movie based on a Disney park ride would have been worth watching? Then the sequels took that goodwill and made it crap. I guess the same can be said about the X-Men and Spiderman sequels though.

  6. putting waterworld as the #1 automatically devalues any opinions you may have on movies.

    Seriously? you think that movies was universally hated?

    And wtf is going on with the mummy numbers? Cost: $145M / Made: $401M Seriously? that film made almost half a billion dollars? Is that right? Checking IMDB at they mention both the $400m figure and a $600million figure.

    How in the world did that movie rake in so much cash?

  7. I gotta join in with the protests about Waterworld. I’m not arguing that it was a money void — *I* have no idea where on earth $175 million would have gone in that film — but I don’t find it nearly as bad as people seem to think it is. It’s no more implausible than any other futurist sci-fi/Doomsday movie, and while the acting is definitely cheesey at times, I’ve without a doubt seen worse, and Dennis Hopper is entertainingly over-the-top.

  8. Why didn’t you put “Cutthroat Island” on? You should have because it was the end of Geena Davis’ string of awesome movies. It cost about $115 million dollars to make and only bought in about $10 million.

  9. How the heck did Titanic (possibly the worst film of all time and one of the most expensive) not only not make the list, but not make #1? I call shenanigans!

  10. @Dave

    I won’t begin to act like the Academy Awards are the end-all be-all watermark for good movies, but I do put a little stock in them. So when it wins that many awards and is factually the most successful movie of all time, you are pretty much a fucking idiot.

  11. “Having just seen Transformers 2 hours ago, I would add that to the list without a doubt. Ah-trocious.”

    Seriously??? It was a good movie! Not as good as the first, but still good. What else would you expect from a sequel to a blockbuster?

  12. @Jason

    No. It wasn’t a good movie. It wasn’t even a movie. I’m not sure what it was. Maybe a nearly 3-hour stupid music video? There was absolutely no cohesion whatsoever. Look, I know that it’s supposed to be a brainless, fun summer flick, but for Pete’s sake, Bay didn’t even *try* to have it make sense.

  13. @ foo

    The list was for movies that cost a ton but sucked, not movies that were terrible investments. Heaven’s Gate, as you correctly pointed out, was a terrible investment!

  14. I can agree with all of these flicks were pretty bad but the one that got to me the worst is Sahara. The fact is they could have hired a better writer or something and that would have been one of the best damn movies ever made, if they would have followed the book it would have been incredible.

  15. I think you guys need to look up the definition of the word “AWFUL.” I’m by no means a fan of some of these movies, but I think maybe ONE, possibly TWO of these films even graze the term “BAD” Plus, considering all but ONE made a profit, I think you guys need to re-evaluate your “AWFUL MOVIES” category, since everyone seemed to like them enough to see them. Idiots.

  16. @TheMovieLover

    I took your advice and looked up “awful.” I already knew what it meant, but thanks.

    Seriously, though, there are at least NINE movies about that by my count are “awful.” Paul apparently thought there were 15. The fact that some of these movies made money is really a weak argument. We’re going to use profit to determine if a movie was good? That doesn’t sound like the type of criteria I’d like to use. I think actually watching them would be more helpful.

    And as for your assertion that “everyone seemed to like them enough to see them?”

    Ok. That makes a lot of sense…because you generally like or dislike a movie *before* you see it, right?

    Thanks for reading. Nice job on name-calling, too. Really hammered home your point.

  17. I for the most part agree with this list, but I didn’t realize that Sahara was so disliked. I never read the novel, so maybe that is where the hate comes from, but I found it to be a fun (if cliche) Indiana Jones wannabe.

    I’m quite shocked that the Mummy movie made that much money. Did it really clean up overseas or something? I think it was on for a total of two weeks at my local theater.

  18. What was terrible was this list. Did you even research any of this? Or you just write your own list? This list should be named Paul’s list of bad movies….but thank you for your work.

    Battlefield Earth?
    Transformers 2?
    Speed Racer?
    Pluto Nash?
    Those are so stinkers right there.

  19. I think this list is badly named, and its throwing people off. This isnt necessarily about awful movies, but about ones that spent a ton of money but didnt make a proportionally good movie (not even close, for many of them). As the author points out, Star Wars 1&2 didnt make the list because they had (surprisingly) comparatively small budgets.

    Similarly, I wouldnt quite call Transformers 2 ‘awful’ because random plot and extremely shitty humor aside, the action was pretty damn entertaining. But with a budget of 200 mil, itd be pretty high on this list.

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  21. Superman Returns’ budget was bloated due to the decision to lump all the other failed attempts at rebooting the franchise (polar bears, Kevin Smith, etc.) into its final budget.

    Course I’m bias because I loved the damn thing.

  22. Re: Transformers 2

    It was extremely entertaining and is a huge box office success. I had some difficultly following the plot, but I wasn’t exactly looking for Schindler’s List when I walked into the IMAX theatre. What was I looking for? Robots kicking the crap out of each other and gratuitous Megan Fox slow-mos. I can’t wait for Blu-Ray.

    The problem with trying to rank bad big budget movies is that a good story doesn’t cost very much money at all. What costs money? Special effects. Big name stars. With that in mind, some of these movies still justify their spots. The Mummy series was fun at first, but c’mon now. Superman returns is just as you put it: outdated. Sahara… wow. Waterworld I think gets a little bit of a bum rap, but it seemed to want to pass itself off as a more meaningful kind of movie, which it failed big time at. The two Star Wars prequels were let downs except for a few saving graces, and would probably be close to the top if they were more expensive, as you said.

  23. I read about a rumour (on the internet so it must be true) that for Superman Returns they actually filmed a segment where Superman flys back to Krypton that cost over $10 million. They clean forgot that the whole reason Superman is on Earth is because Krypton was destroyed.

  24. It’s nice for a change to see a list of bad movies that doesn’t contain old standbys like “Ishtar” or “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” I would agree with you on about a third of the movies you have listed. Two that I would add however are “GI Joe” and “Speed 2-Cruise control.”

  25. These bunch of ill-informed idiots who call themselves “critics”
    – tell them to try making a movie themselves if they think they
    know everything about a good, enjoyable, marketable movie.

    Almost nobody pays attention to these bums – just look at the
    huge sales of all of those movies labelled “Rotten 30 %” by
    that stupid website, Rottentomatoes.

  26. Oh now tell me how many movies have you made? Ill take your rant as a cry to attention because clearly if you’re not making movies to too movies you shoot down than you’re speaking from you ass not from experience.

  27. Paul, your taste in movies is shocking….just saying. Most of the movies on this list are fantastic. Also, most all of them made large profits. Your ignorance is perfectly apparent:

    “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?”

    If no one wants to see it..yet it made a $256 million dollar profit?

  28. Going through this whole list your taste in Movies suck your rating system is pathetic. These were all great action packed movies to even put Spiderman 3, Van Helsing, or Poseidon on this list is ridiculous. Plus by your own admission on your list these were huge blockbuster hits that many people loved and still enjoy. Yes some of these were remakes or reboots but in general great cinema. Were is The Amazing Spiderman and the ones afterwards the first generation ones were way better. Bad movies are ones that make no money cause they look so bad nobody goes to see them none of these fits this bill. For instance a bad movie was After Earth that should be on this list crap from start to finish.

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