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most expensive movie sets ever made

it is time to find out which ones are the most expensive movie sets ever made!

if you are a movie addict such as myself, this article will bring you joy.
everyone knows that making movies is an expensive thing to do, especially if you want your movie to be successful.
& so, there are costs all the way throughout production, from paying screenwriters to create a script, hiring a crew, getting the equipment you need, & paying the stars of the films.
but there will always be unannounced costs that will make your budget go up. plus, you need a catering crew, insurance & of course, the post-production.
when the movie is done shooting it goes in post-production where the special effects are created & added to the picture, moving it from raw footage into the final finished product.
& where do you put the money required to build the sets for the film.
but the technology available nowadays can come in handy and will allow you to create anything you want, & the detailed sets are becoming less & less problematic for filmmakers.
the filmmakers can instead get the perfect look using computer generated images or/& green screen.
in this list, the case of green screens doesn’t apply. the directors often need to rely on building sets in meticulous detail in order to give the illusion that the movie is taking place in fantastic &/or exotic environments & locations.
& for you to have the best experience possible, the directors may often chose to go for a physical set rather than a fully digital one for artistic reasons.
in many of these cases, the construction of sets can be particularly expensive or elaborate.


10. Matrix Reloaded
we begin our list with one of the most famous films out there: Matrix Reloaded.
the film has been a masterpiece & a point of inspiration for many films that came up after it. the second film of the trilogy kept us in awe once again.
for a better experience for the audience, the directors, The Wachowski Brothers, spent quite a lot on physical sets.
when you consider the vast amounts of special effects & computer generated images that were used throughout all movies, the trilogy spend quite much on the sets.
a large part of the budgets of the films are used to create large & detailed sets, & the Matrix trilogy wasn’t an exception.
at the time, the sets from the Matrix Reloaded were the biggest & most complex, because of the complex shoot & the need to film over a long period of time, the scene needed to be shot on a real road, so the crew built their own. at a cost of $2.5 million.
the road was built on an old disused military base with thousands of tons of concrete. it was a mile & a half long & came with 19-foot walls & an off ramp.
once the movie was finished the road was then dismantled & 90% of the materials, including wood, metal & plastics were recycled.




9. Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket is a war film released in 1987. produced & directed by Stanley Kubrick, the screenplay was based on Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers.
it received critical acclaim & an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Kubrick, Herr & Hasford.
the exact details about the cost of the various sets that were constructed for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket are unknown.
& their biggest & most complex set constructed specifically for the production was the ruined Vietnamese town of Hue.
the director managed to secure an abandoned gasworks & dockyard that was due to be demolished.
together with the art director, the director, spent two months blowing up various buildings, constructing new ones & using hired wrecking ball to damage buildings in the exact same way as photographs he had.
for more authenticity, he was also able to buy a collection of M41 tanks & Westland Wessex helicopters for the set.




8. Waterworld
Waterworld is another film with an expensive set. it is without a doubt one of the most famous movies ever made.
Kevin Costner’s 1995 “Waterworld” was the most expensive movie ever produced, that is before James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) came out.
Costner personally invested over $22 million of his own money into the film and the movie set. since Waterworld, as the story suggests, is based mostly on the sea, most of the shooting took place on a gigantic 365-foot-diameter atoll specifically built for the production off the coast of Hawaii.
for the panoramic shots, to create the illusion of no land, the atoll had to be moved out farther into the ocean & rotated for different angles.
Aerial filming was also provided from seaplanes & helicopters. widely considered to be a huge financial disaster, the production budget skyrocketed when the set was destroyed by weather, & more than once!
since no research was done on the local climate or weather conditions, the production got hit hard by 3 major hurricanes that caused damage to the set. eventually, the artificial island sank.




7. Stalingrad
some say that this 4-million-dollar Russian set was built from zero and took an army of artists to paint & finalize.
the huge pieces were constructed at the former Krasny Treugolnik (Red Triangle) factory in St. Petersburg & the Third North Fort was made near the city of Kronstadt.
artists studies diaries, photos & museum archives for this film as the set was meant to reproduce every detail of Stalingrad’s history as accurately & realistically as possible.
more than six months were spend building the construction & involved over 420 people. among the life-sized vintage pieces seen on set were functional tanks, armored personnel carriers, cars & planes.
it should come as no surprise then that almost one sixth of the budget of the film, something approaching $5 million.




6. Tatooine locations for Star Wars
another amazing movie sets, and this comes from a well-known movie: Star Wars.
these are some of the most memorable scenes from the film, to be more precisely the scenes from the desert planet Tatooine of the Star Wars universe.
& go figure, these scenes were actually filmed in rural Tunisia.
the numerous, long-abandoned Star Wars sets dating back from 1977, 1999 & 2001-2002 can be found throughout Tozeur, Naftah, Matmata & other places in North Africa.
the crew travelled far and wide to the barren Sahara desert towns, where an area of over 11,000 square meters was converted into a fantasy world.
later, upon special request from the Tunisian government, some of the locations were left intact & became popular tourist attractions in the Sahara desert.




5. Titanic
& we have arrived at the number five were we find Titanic, a huge success, both critically & commercially.
it was the big success of James Cameron, before Avatar. Titanic had a budget of $200 million which made it one of the most expensive films ever created.
much of the budget went on paying the small army of extras, founding the two months of overtime required to finish the shoot & on the wages of the stars & crew.
but wait, there is more. another part of the budget went on creating the hugely detailed sets that appear throughout.
the biggest set included a 40-acre facility that contained two huge tanks that could contain more than twenty million gallons of water & a 90% scale replica of the starboard side of the ship.
the boat was needed for hundreds of different shots, while the tanks of the model were necessary so the director could shot the replica in water & allow it to sink at the end.
the total cost when adjusted for inflation of this elaborate set alone exceeded $30 million.




4. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings sets
with a budget of over $280 million, the filming was done in some of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.
in over a period of more than 440 days, the principal photography for the trilogy was done in New Zealand’s conservation areas & national parks.
the movie set included over 150 different locations, with 7 separate film units shooting.
some of the impressive features included the construction of the Edoras fortress from scratch, as well as building an entire Hobbiton village.
the amount of detail put into these decorations & costumes was unprecedented made this place one some of the most visited places by the tourists.




3. Intolerance
Intolerance was directed & produced by D.W. Griffith, in 1916 it was when the era masterpiece was written.
what is great about this film is that it tells four different stories with similar themes across a large range of human history, from an early 20th century American drama to the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France during the 1500s.
it was clear from the start of production that a huge amount of money was going to have to be spent on creating sets, costumes & paying extras.
the biggest individual set, & the most expensive was the scale model of the Great Wall of Babylon that was over 300-feet tall.
the exact figures for each set have never been released, but it did take up a large proportion of the overall production budget that rose to more than $45 million when adjusted for inflation.




2. Ben Hur
this 1959 version of Ben Hur is something of a masterpiece. I know, I’ve used this word again, but it is the right word to describe the film.
considered by many as one of the greatest films ever made, the film is infamous for its hugely exciting chariot race section.
the director & the producers spent more than $1 million of the $15 million budget for the film because they understood that part of the film to be the most important.
the work to complete the huge chariot arena was truly astronomical, with a thousand builders working every day for over a year to carve out the track, erect the wooden structures & construct the various grandstands.
to top it off, the filmmakers then had to import white sand from Mexico as none was available on location.




1. WarGames
this is a 1983 film featuring an incredibly powerful supercomputer that controls the US nuclear missile silos, was a film with a low budget.
with a low budget and everything, a significant part of the founding went on building one set in particular.
one million of the $12 million budget was spent on recreating the famous NORAD command center.
Without being able to see the actual NORAD center, as they were not given permission by the government, the crew produced a far more futuristic command center with more technologically advanced looking computer systems.




are these sets as cool as you imagined? which one is your favorite?


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