Movie budgets have gotten so large that it's almost impossible to imagine just what it is they're spending these hundreds of millions on. Well, as with most Hollywood stories, the reality seems more unrealistic than even the worst special effect.
You can't really examine some of the more interesting expenditures in Hollywood history without bringing up Kevin Costner's $175 million albatross. Cracked's covered some of the VFX work on this shitshow previously (they CGI'd his goddamn hairline?) but the tale of the single most expensive visual in the film is too full of schadenfreude to pass up:
Universal paid $22 million for a quarter-mile long set called "The Atoll," representing the floating junkpile that our piss-drinking, gilled Costner-Mutant finds himself on. Kevin convinced Universal that for the utmost verisimilitude, they had to film on the ocean. But instead of then just filming on the ocean, they built a massive tank...in the ocean, just off the coast of Hawaii.
And then they built a giant set that depleted all the available steel in Hawaii. It weighed 1000-tons, cost $22 million and contained approximately no bathrooms. The crew didn't like the idea of swimming and filming in their own filth, so costs rose as crewmembers had to be ferried back and forth to the island just to use the collection of port-a-potties outside their living quarters, which were old, uninsulated condominiums. By contrast, Costner slept in a villa, complete with a butler, a chef and private swimming pool while collecting a $14 million salary.
When it came time to shoot, they put the set they built in the tank they built. One thing they didn't take into account: Floating cities with no means of propulsion are hard to move. When a hurricane warning was issued in the middle of shooting, they had no choice but sit back while the fucking thing sank. Costner's career followed shortly.