It’s not completely uncommon for a studio to fork out large sums for a literal ‘money shot’ in a feature length movie, but surely nobody could manage to blow too much of their budget on one scene. Could they?
Turns out they can.
With a rumour doing the rounds that practical effect loving director Christopher Nolan is allegedly forking out a cool £3.4 million for a single scene involving the crashing of an antique World War II fighter plane, you might be interested to know that’s pocket change compared to some past movies.
Because believe it or not, £3.4 million pales in comparison to the most expensive movie scenes ever.
I Am Legend – The Brooklyn Bridge
Cost (adjusted for inflation): £4.3 million
Shot on location over the course of six nights, the evacuation scene over Brooklyn Bridge rocked up a massive £4.3 million, using 2,000 individual members of cast and crew (mainly extras), and hi-tech lighting equipment.
Add in the military grade vehicles and helicopters, and it isn’t hard to see why this short snippet of the post-apocalyptic drama – a mere flashback no less – cost so much.
Pearl Harbour – Air Raid
Cost (adjusted for inflation): £5.6 million
Michael Bay basically spawned a career from this, the tragic and awesome destructive scene in the otherwise loathed Pearl Harbor, which depicts the terrifying bombing of the American port.
Most of the money went on CGI, and making sure Ben Affleck was too busy to rope Matt Damon into playing his sidekick. Probably. In all honesty, we really don’t think £5.6 million is such a terrifying figure for a scene in a Michael Bay movie.
Superman Returns – Deleted Opening
Cost (adjusted for inflation): £8.9 million
You may not be aware of it, but 2006’s Superman Returns actually had an entirely different opening, which involved the Kryptonian returning (see what you did there) to his home planet.
How the production team managed to accumulate nearly £9 million of costs through this scene, we do not know, but if you’re really desperate to see what it contains, the deleted opening is available here.
Swordfish – Deleted Flying Bus
Cost (adjusted for inflation): £13.3 million
Again, many avid fans of John Travolta’s caper may not be aware that there was a major action scene cut from the final production, wrapping as it did just before the events of 9/11.
The scene involved a helicopter carrying a suspended school bus through the streets of L.A, before crashing into a corporate building. To capture the footage, the crew actually lifted up a school bus with a crane, and swung the extra-loaded vehicle from side to side to simulate a rocky flight. A lot of effort to go to for something that never made the cut.
The Matrix Reloaded – Agent Smith fight
Cost (adjusted for inflation): £39.2 million
It’s almost heart-breaking to know that one of the most ludicrously OTT action sequences in movie history was a product of hyperbolic Hollywood funding, but at the end of the day, nothing can detract from the cool factor of the Agent Smith fight scene in The Matrix Reloaded.
The most expensive single scene ever made was an accumulation of innumerable hours of CGI editing, choreography, and stunt acting, and the yield is a fight sequence that had playground kids everywhere attempting to defy gravity with naught but a pole and some self belief.