Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood


Making movies is an expensive business. There are charges all the way throughout production, from paying writers to creating a script, hiring a crew, making the right equipment and of course, paying the star performers to play the key roles. There is a mixture of other drains on the finances too, such as cookery and insurance, but one of the key areas that take up a large part of the overall budget comes in post-production. Here, the individual effects are created and added to the picture, moving it from raw footage to the final finished product. Of course, there is a different expense in the form of the cash required to build the sets for the film.

But, with the enduring advances in technology, creating large detailed sets is becoming less and less questionable for filmmakers, and they can instead get the complete look using computer generated images and green screen. This hasn’t always been the case, although, and directors and producers would often have to rely on building sets in meticulous detail to give the illusion of the movie leading place in exotic or fantastic settings and locations. In other cases, producers may want to go for a decent set rather than a fully digital one for artistic reasons. In both instances, although, the structure of sets, especially those that are particularly expensive or elaborate, can be costly. You just have to see for the ten examples listed here to see how costly they can be.

List of Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood 2016 Ranking

10. Matrix Reloaded

It might surprise several people that The Matrix trilogy spent quite a lot on real sets, especially when you think the vast amounts of personal effects and computer generated images that were used throughout all three movies. The truth is, although that a large part of the budget for the films went on creating extensive and detailed sets. Because of the complicated shoot and the need to film over an extended period, the freeway scene could not be made on a real road, so the crew gets their own at a cost of $2.5 million.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

9. Full Metal Jacket

While exact details at the expense of the many sets that were the construct for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket have never been fully explained, it is not much of a stretch to guess that at least some of them were incredibly expensive. The biggest and most complex set constructed particularly for the production was the bankrupt Vietnamese town of Hue. He, along with the art director, then used two months blowing up many buildings, creating new ones and using a used wrecking ball to destroy buildings in the same way as photographs he had in his possession. For more authenticity, he was also capable of buying a collection of M41 tanks and Westland Wessex helicopters for the locate.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

8. Water World

Water world is arguably one of the most famous movies ever made. Not because it is an excellent film or had huge success but instead, due to it being such a high-profile flop. The giant atoll, with a limit of a quarter of a mile, was produced during the production and swam in the ocean on the beach in Hawaii. It was such a high set that it built a steel shortage in Hawaii, leading to an extra material having to be fly directly from California. It took thousands of man-hours to complete, ramping up the cost even further as Costner wanted close attention to detail.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

7. Stalingrad

Fedor Bondarchuk’s intense war drama Stalingrad launched in 2013 to varied reviews from critics. One of the most immensely praised aspects of the film, though, was the extraordinary visuals and ultra-realistic representation of the scenery shown throughout. It must happen as no surprise then that approximately one-sixth of the budget of the film, something approaching $5 million, was spent on building a huge set filled with structures, equipment, and vehicles that would have been started in Stalingrad during World War II. More than 400 staff employed a total of six months studying archives and diaries from the time to assure everything was as authentic as potential before spending another six months building the set that would work in the center of the city in the movie.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

6. The General

This white and the black film was directed by and led the legendary Buster Keaton, and despite being a joke, had rather large funds. Much of it went to one scene in particular, in which a train crashes through a collapsing bridge. This concerned using an antique train and an actual bridge that was blown up, leaving the director with just one chance to get the shot he needed. When all was finished, the set had price $42,000 for that one scene, a figure that would turn to around $6 million today.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

5. Titanic

The huge success, both commercially and seriously, of Titanic, came at a hefty cost for James Cameron and the workshops that were financing it. With a statement of $200 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever shaped, and much of it went to paying the small army of extras, funding the two months of overtime needed to finish the shoot and on the wages of the stars and crew. The image of the Titanic was required for hundreds of many shots while the tanks were necessary so that the manager could film the replica in water and to permit it to sink at the end. The total price, when attuned for inflation of this complicated set alone, exceeded $30 million.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

4. Hello, Dolly!

This Barbra Streisand movie was a musical that get motivation from the Broadway show of the same name. Launching in 1969, it had an overall budget, counting marketing, and distribution costs, of $25 million with a significant relationship of that being spent on constructing the elaborate sets that feature predominantly in various scenes. The extravagant construction features four many levels, including a foyer, a hotel, a dance floor and a bar fitted with a type of expensive fixtures such as ivory furniture and large ornate fountains. The total price for just this set was $375,000, a shape that would equate to more than $2 million in today’s money.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

3. Intolerance

The silent-era masterwork Intolerance was written, directed and produced by D.W. Griffith, in 1916. It tells four different tales with similar themes across a vast range of human history, from an early 20th-century American drama to the St. Bartholomew’s Day butchery in France during the 1500s. While exact figures for all set have never been released, it did get up a high proportion of the overall production estimates that rose to more than $45 million when attuned for inflation.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

2. Ben Hur

The 1959 story of Ben Hur is something of a masterpiece. It is widely measured to be one of the best movies ever made and is infamous for its hugely exciting chariot race section. Knowing that part of the film to be debatably the most important of the feature, the director and farmers spent more than $1 million of the $15 budget for the movie on building a huge chariot arena. To top it off, the makers then had to carry white sand from Mexico as none was available on location.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood

1. War Games

War Games, a 1983 movie featuring an extremely powerful processor that controls the US nuclear missile silos, was a relatively small budget film. Out of funds of just $12 million for the continuous manufacture, as well as marketing and administration, $1 million of it was spent on recreating the leading NORAD command center. Out being able to see the actual NORAD center, as the government did not give them permission, the crew produced a far more modern command center with more technologically advanced looking computer systems.

Top Ten Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever Made in Hollywood