Having released hundreds of movies throughout its existence, Disney makes film production look easy. Let’s be real, though: It’s not. And also, it’s crazy expensive. High-quality films take hundreds of millions of dollars to make, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s live-action or animated. Film studios are still required to dish out the big bucks. Because of this, we thought we’d take a closer look at Disney’s most expensive movies to date. We’ll be covering everything from its swashbuckling tales of pirates to its story about a princess with long, golden hair.
However, we won’t be looking at films that have only been distributed by Disney rather than ones that the studio produced. This means films created by Marvel and LucasFilms won’t be making the cut. It’s also worth noting that the film budgets listed here are only rough estimates, not their exact amounts. With that said, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show; here are the 10 most expensive Disney movies ever made (at the time of this list's writing)!
10 Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) - $225 Million
The second Pirates of the Caribbean film tells the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow’s daring escape from Davy Jones, whom he is in debt to. Of course, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann once again tag along for this journey.
The film’s budget came in around $225 million, and that number is no surprise thanks to the crazy number of special effects. While the film is live-action, certain characters including Davy Jones himself, required massive amounts of high-tech animation.
9 The Lone Ranger (2013) - $225 to $250 million
Johnny Depp also happens to co-star in the next most expensive Disney film alongside Armie Hammer. The Lone Ranger tells of a boy in 1933 who discovers an Indian named Tonto who recalls his adventures in the wild west.
Though the hopes for this film were high, its performance was low. It didn’t help that there were multiple production problems, leading to budgetary issues and even a potential cancellation. Though the exact cost of the film hasn’t been defined online, sources indicate it likely cost around $225 million to $250 million.
8 The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) - $225 Million
Prince Caspian brings the action of C. S. Lewis’s fourth Chronicles of Narnia installment to the big screen. This installment has the Pevensie siblings leaving England to return to the magical world of Narnia, where 1,300 years have come and gone. During this new time, Prince Caspian plots to overthrow the evil king and return to his rightful place on the throne.
The grand scale of the film had it costing near $225 million to create, with around $100 million of it headed toward special effects. Additionally, Disney spent nearly $175 million promoting the film.
7 Maleficent (2014) - $180 to 263 Million
This 2014 dark fantasy, starring Angelina Jolie in the titular role, tells the story of a girl in a forest kingdom who, over time, becomes the biggest threat in the land. The haunting retelling of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficient’s perspective featured lots of magic. Magic means special effects, and special effects means money.
This had the film costing somewhere between $180 million and $263 million to produce.
6 Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) - $230 to $320 Million
The fifth installment has Captain Jack Sparrow searching out the Trident of Poseidon in order to survive the attacks by Captain Salazar and his ghost sailors. However, tracking down the relic comes as no easy task and requires Sparrow to team up with a young astronomer and a British navy man.
Though the production budget was large, somewhere between $230 million and $320 million, the payoff was also grand. The film grossed close to $800 million at the box office. The film was actually stalled for many years due to script and budget issues, but thankfully, it emerged victorious on the other side.
5 The Lion King (2019) - $250 to $260 Million
The Lion King got a 2019 remake in which photorealistic animals took center stage instead of classically animated ones. The plot once again had the young Simba leaving the Pride Lands after his father’s tragic death. However, the leading lion must eventually return and take back what is rightfully his from his evil uncle Scar.
The musical cost around $250 million and $260 million to produce. Being that it came out this year (when production costs are at an all-time high) and required advanced technology, the budget is justified.
4 Beauty & The Beast (2017) - $254 Million (Plus $300 Million In Marketing)
Before The Lion King received a remake, Beauty and the Beast was getting the live-action treatment. The 2017 musical romantic fantasy told the tale of a young prince in France who is cursed to remain a beast forever unless he learns to love another before the last petal on his enchanted rose falls. The story picks up after a young woman named Belle becomes his prisoner in exchange for her father’s release.
With an estimated budget of $254 million (plus over $300 million including the marketing), the film remains one of the most expensive musicals to have been released to date. The many special effects had the price skyrocketing high.
3 Tangled (2010) - $260 Million
In 2010, Disney released its most expensive animation to date: Tangled. The fantasy adventures tells of a young woman with magical hair named Rapunzel who has been locked away in a tower since she was young. Nearing her 18th birthday, however, she sets out to see the floating lanterns with the help of a thief who stumbles into her corner of the forest.
The film cost more than $260 million to produce, having spent six years in production.
2 Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) - $300 Million
This Pirates of the Caribbean film had Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann teaming with Captain Barbossa to rescue Jack Sparrow from the depth of Davy Jones' locker. As soon as they can complete this, they set out to take on the powerful and controlling East India Trading Company, headed by a man who hopes to permanently rid of piracy.
Released in 2007 with a budget of around $300 million, what was thought to be the Captain Jack Sparrow's swan song was the most expensive of all time when it was released. Though of course, this particular franchise knew how to top itself.
1 Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) - $410 Million
Finishing off the list is what is known to be Disney’s most expensive film to date. The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean installment, On Stranger Tides, has Captain Jack Sparrow stumbling into a former flame who recruits him and a zombie crew to join her on a quest to scout out the legendary Fountain of Youth. The problem? A Spanish ship, as well as Barbossa, set out to do the same thing.
Due to inflated production costs, the budget of the film reached over $379 million, with the final numbers coming in closer to $410 million.