With studio tentpoles becoming bigger and more extravagant, the budgets for Marvel's Avengers movies are going through the roof. Once upon a time, a movie costing $100 million was considered a big deal. In 2007 when Titanic's budget topped $200 million, folks thought things were maybe getting out-of-hand. Nowadays $200 million is nothing for a big studio movie, and it's not unheard-of for a film to top the $300 million mark.
With special effects becoming more elaborate all the time, it doesn't seem like studios are going to back off trying to pack their big-ticket movies with as much visual spectacle as possible, and that's only going to cause budgets to keep ballooning. In the next few years, Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel are expected to shoot right past any previous budgetary high-water mark and set a new standard for spending.
At last month's African American Critics Association luncheon (via Atlanta Business Chronicle), Pinewood Atlanta Studios co-owner Dan Cathy cut loose with a jaw-dropping report that an unnamed film currently shooting at his studio is the largest film production ever with a $1 billion budget. Cathy was not allowed to name the production, but Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel Avengers 4 are currently filming at the Pinewood Complex (and Infinity War won't be done any time soon if Scarlett Johansson's recent comments are any indication).
The current record-holder for biggest budget in movie history is Avatar, which in 2009 cost a reported $425 million. To give some perspective, Marvel's first Avengers film in 2012 cost a reported $220 million, while Age of Ultron cost $250 million. So if Dan Cathy's numbers are accurate, each of the next two Avengers films will by itself cost more than the first two Avengers movies put together. The Marvel movies have come a long way since 2008 when the first Iron Man film cost a "mere" $140 million.
Some will argue it never makes sense to pour so much money into one production, and that spending so much on a movie is actually bad for creativity because it leads to pressures that force studios to play it safe. However, it's hard to argue with the success Marvel has enjoyed with its superhero movies, and that success has been largely built on a willingness to gamble ever-larger amounts of money in the belief that audiences will come. Paying stars also gets expensive and Marvel has shown a willingness to keep audiences happy by spending big to keep its all-star casts together.
Overseas markets like China opening up have caused worldwide grosses to balloon along with tentpole budgets. With big movies now routinely taking in over $1 billion in total domestic and international ticket sales, the justification is there to keep spending more and more, in order to give audiences of all countries the spectacle and star-power they seemingly crave. The concern is that all this spending will lead to a bubble and that one day the bubble will burst, creating a disaster that even the Avengers themselves would not have the power to overcome.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018