Top 7 Most Expensive Movie Scenes In History, $3.8 Million For 1 Minute On Screen?

Hanima Anand |Jul 07, 2020

Most commercial hits in the film industry require an enormous amount of budget, but you’ll be surprised knowing some particular scenes cost million dollars to shoot. Check below the top 5 most expensive movie scenes of all times!

People all know the ability of making money from Hollywood blockbusters which can generate billions of revenue, but the cost to produce those movies are not cheap at all. See the expenses of these 7 most expensive movie scenes in history below for more details!

All the budget listed in these movies have been publicized and can be verified. There exist some other movie scenes reported to be more expensive than these. However, there’s no official confirmation regarding those scenes, so does not include those in the list of costliest movie scenes as follows.

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Car racing scenes in James Bond movies are costly too, but there are no official figures.

7. Empty Times Square in Vanilla Sky - $1 million

The 2001 movie is an English version of the Spanish movie Open Your Eyes. It was directed by Cameron Crowe, featuring one of the hottest names of the world film industry Tom Cruise. Vanilla Sky is a sci-fi psychological thriller made on a budget of $68 million. It gained $203.4 million of grossing till date.

The most costly scene in Vanilla Sky, also ranking among the most expensive movie scenes in history is the empty Times Square dream of the main character. David Aames, a playboy millionaire dreams of driving his Ferrari around New York, to “The Crossroads of the World” but strangely the famous square is completely empty. Turns out it’s a dream which accounts for 30 seconds of screentime.

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Should the movie be done during lockdown 2020, the scene won't cost a dime.

To record the unique scene, the production team has to deal with New York Police Department to close off Times Square from 5 a.m to 8 a.m on a Sunday morning in Nov, 2000. The expense to get it done climbs up to $1 million (7.4 crore rupees)

6. Bridge collapse scene in I Am Legend - $5 million

The next name in the most expensive movie scenes of all time is a Will Smith-starrer, I Am Legend in 2007. The movie was directed by Francis Lawrence on a budget of $150 million, gaining a box office collection of $585.3 million in return.

In the movie, Will Smith plays the role of Dr. Robert Neville who is separated from his wife and child on the post-apocalyptic streets in New York. After his family managed to board a rescue helicopter, the military bomb the Brooklyn Bridge, causing the death of his most beloved relatives.

To depict the breathtaking moment of Brooklyn Bridge collapse and chaos around, the 250-member production team has to ask for help of 1,000 extra personnel, 14 government agencies to evacuate nearby people and an expansive lighting rig during 6 nights to finish the shooting. The total cost is estimated at $5 million (37 crore rupees).

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5. Return to Krypton scene in Superman Returns - $10 million

In fact, Superman Returns (2006) is not a profitable movie when its budget is $223 million but the grossing just reaches $391 million. But that’s not what we will discuss today.

We are talking one of the most expensive movie scenes in history, the Superman’s return to his mother planet Krypton. To illustrate the visually striking scenes and abstract vibe of Krypton, the filming crew had to erect a setting that looks most original and real as possible, spending a whopping amount of $10 million onto it.

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Concept art of the deleted scene Superman return to Krypton

Surprisingly, the film distributor Warner Bros decided to cut it out because the stunning scene doesn’t fit with the fun tone of the entire movie. This makes it the most expensive deleted movie scene ever in the world filming history.

4. D-Day landing scene in Saving Private Ryan - $12 million

The 1998 epic war film was made on a total budget of $70 million but only its opening already costs $12 million to shoot. The scenes run in 25 minutes on the screen but took 4 weeks to complete.

The D-Day landing portrays Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks leading the army to the victory of the Allies despite the enormous loss in the battle. 750 actors have been employed and most shots are recorded spontaneously, the atmosphere of the landing is fully illustrated with chaos and unpredictability.

The magnitude of this opening is totally worth it when the film gathers a grossing of $482.3 million.

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3. Junkyard scene in Transformers: The Last Knight - $15 million

Being an installment in the hit franchise Transformers means The Last Knight is invested a considerable amount of budget, $260 million to be exact. And it’s no surprise when a scene in this series ranks in the top most expensive movie scenes in history.

To continue its previous installment (Transformer: Age of Extinction), The Last Knight must start with the junkyard scene, which leads to an incredible amount of expenses for a single opening. After finding a junkyard to the north of Deer Valley Airport, the crew came there to shoot the scene in 10 days but the actual time spent on setting up the area is up to 2 months. With more than 40 locals, 50 vendors and 3,000 cumulative hotel nights, the scene cost $15 million in total.

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To maintain continuity, the crew had to spend a whopping amount on this junkyard.

2. Cruise ship crash in Speed 2: Cruise Control - $25 million

Gaining $164.5 million in grossing in 1997, the Jan de Bont’s movie takes up to $160 million to produce, with roughly one-sixth of the amount spent on a 5-minute scene.

To shoot the cruise ship crash into a tranquil town of Saint Martin, the production team had to construct a replica of two-thirds of the ship then finish the shooting with digital techniques. Back in 1997, this method, despite its fees of $25m, was still much more affordable than C.G.I which might cost the team up to $500 million for the crash scene.

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A replica of parts of ship was made to shoot the crash scene.

1. Chariot Race in Ben-Hur - $34 million

In fact, the scene costs $4 million at the time it was shot in 1959 but it is still one of the most expensive movie scenes in history because $4m can be converted to $34 million today. To shoot this single scene of 9-minute chariot race, the preparation took place throughout 5 years including the construction of the arena by 750 workers. It means that each minute of this scene in Ben-Hur costs roughly $3.8 million.

The race was shot during 10 weeks in total with strenuous tasks but it paid off. The movie gathered $146.9 million at the time it’s released, making it the highest-grossing movie then. If adjusted for inflation, Ben-Hur box office collection would fall between $1.2 billion today.

All in all, do you think these most expensive movie scenes of all time contribute greatly to the success of those films? Is there any movie with low budget but turns out to be a commercial hit that you happen to know?

Please leave comments in the box below so others can refer to as well. And do come back for more Top Picks!

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