Filmmaking is a tricky business, especially since a movie’s profitability can drastically affect the careers of those involved. As a result, it becomes essential for studios to assess their projects’ performance in comparison to their budget, particularly when hefty fees are forked out to get top talent. In that regard, 2023 has been a mixed bag at the box office for big-budget features.
Films like Barbie and The Super Mario Bros. Movie emerged as surprise blockbusters, while Oppenheimer reiterated the charms of a well-crafted cinematic experience. However, many big-budget films failed to justify their high price tags. Here are the top five most expensive movies of 2023 and how they fared at the box office.
5. The Marvels and The Flash
Tying for the fifth spot are The Marvels and The Flash, two high-profile superhero tentpoles based on some of the most popular comic book characters. The Flash had a reported budget of $200-220 million. The Marvels was made for $274.8 million but received a subsidy from the UK government, bringing its net budget to $219.8 million. Neither film could work its magic at the box office, with The Marvels grossing $202.5 million and The Flash managing a slightly better $270.6 million gross collection.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
The earlier entry might convince you that superhero movies are out of fashion, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, directed by James Gunn, might change your mind. Made on a budget of nearly $250 million, the threequel received critical acclaim for its themes and heartfelt farewell to the rag-tag group of heroes fans have come to love over the last decade. Therefore, it is no surprise that the film raked in a whopping $845.6 million worldwide, becoming a box-office success.
3. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
With the stardom of Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie’s skills powering it, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was poised to be a commercial success just like its predecessors. The movie’s $291 million gross budget further highlighted the studio’s confidence in the project. However, the film only managed a modest $567.5 million collection at the worldwide box office, partially due to the Barbenheimer effect, becoming the franchise’s lowest-grossing movie since 2011.
2. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny marked Harrison Ford’s return to the role of the iconic titular archaeologist after nearly fifteen years. Moreover, with James Mangold in the director’s chair, hopes were high for the franchise’s fifth and final installment. However, a massive budget of $295–300 million meant the movie was already facing an uphill battle. It managed to gross only $384 million globally, emerging as one of the biggest box-office disappointments of 2023.
1. Fast X
Fast X was one of 2023’s hotly anticipated films, especially because of the franchise’s box-office history and star-studded cast. Led by Vin Diesel and Jason Momoa, starring as the primary antagonist, the Toretto family’s latest outing had a price tag of $340 million, making it the year’s most expensive movie. While the movie grossed $714.1 million at the global box office, the final collection was even lower than its predecessor’s $726.2 million gross, making Fast X a total disappointment.