5 Movies That Went Bafflingly Over-Budget

Hollywood just loves wasting money
5 Movies That Went Bafflingly Over-Budget

Making a movie is obviously an expensive endeavor. You have to pay actors, rent equipment, and in the case of a Hollywood production in the 1980s, stealthily purchase enough cocaine to flatline Tony Montana. Typically, movies with big budgets have impressively cinematic results — after all, we don’t question the high cost of the Avatar films, because clearly James Cameron employed thousands of digital artists to bring his private Smurf fetish to life. 

But occasionally, we get a movie that doesn’t take place in outer space, features zero epic battles and contains no scenes of Kevin Costner drinking his own piss atop a floating city, yet still mysteriously cost an arm made out of gold and a leg made out of melted-down faberge eggs. Where did all that cash go? With these films it’s hard to tell…


A belated entry in the “swindle Boomers out of their money with a half-assed remake of a ‘60s sitcom” subgenre, 2005’s Bewitched starred Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell as a pair of actors remaking the classic sitcom Bewitched — but Kidman’s character is an actual witch, thus confirming every internet conspiracy theory that Hollywood is secretly full of devil-worshiping occultists. 

Directed by the legendary Nora Ephron, Bewitched isn’t an especially visually impressive movie, and, aside from the occasional nose-twitching magic and flying broomstick, it features no costly special effects. Yet it somehow had a budget of “at least $85 million.” To use other 2005 movies as a reference point, that’s more than two Sin Citys-worth. And more than 170 Bricks.

Why did it cost so much? Well, Kidman was paid $17.5 million, and Ferrell demanded the same. Meaning that just the two leads alone cost $35 million. And presumably Michael Caine didn’t donate his time. Plus, the movie had been in development for more than a decade, so even before Nora Ephron and her co-writer/sister Delia Ephron received their paychecks, nine other screenwriters were paid, in addition to any other overhead costs accrued since the project first began way back in 1991. 

Fun with Dick and Jane

After entertaining families with movies like Ace Ventura and The Mask (and also sickos with The Cable Guy) Jim Carrey eventually went on to star in the 2005 comedy Fun with Dick and Jane, a loose remake of the 1977 satire about a husband and wife who turn to a life of crime in order to retain their middle-class status.

The Carrey-starring version is still, at its core, an anti-capitalist story about an unscrupulous corporation and consumerism run amok, which makes it extra-odd that it cost a whopping $100 million to make, which some noted at the time, was “33 times the price tag” of the original.

Beyond the rumors of a “troubled” production that required countless takes, script rewrites and last-minute reshoots, nobody seemed to have a clear explanation as to why Fun with Dick and Jane was so goddamn expensive to make. Carrey, who was also a producer on the film, suggested, “Maybe somebody is buying golden toilet seats somewhere,” adding, somewhat defensively, “Ask the Pentagon what they do.”

How Do You Know

Oscar-winning filmmaker (and Simpsons co-creator) James L. Brooks isn’t known for creating bombastic cinematic spectacles. Like, we’re guessing that he didn’t need to hire Industrial Light & Magic to create the illusion that Albert Brooks was real sweaty in Broadcast News

Brooks’ most recent directorial effort, 2010’s How Do You Know, was a typically down-to-earth, pretty boring dramedy in which Reese Witherspoon is torn between two romantic interests, played by Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd. Also, Jack Nicholson shows up in a supporting role — perhaps not coincidentally, this was his final role before deciding to stop making movies altogether. 

Somehow, this flick, which has the look of a Lifetime Christmas movie, cost $120 million to make (and ended up making only $49 million at the box office). The talent alone cost around $50 million, and as for the remaining $70 million, the eyebrow-raising sum was reportedly the result of Brooks’ “slow and meticulous” process, which involved a lengthy production schedule. Not to mention that he decided to “reshoot the beginning and end of the movie.” 

Speaking of disastrous reshoots….

Town & Country

While it may sound like the name of a magazine you’d find in a dentist’s office, Town & Country is actually the 2001 comedy in which Warren Beatty and Garry Shandling really stretched the limits of their thespianism by playing two horny older men.

Originally budgeted for a modest $44 million, Town & Country ended up burning through $105 million, becoming one of the most notorious flops in movie history. Even some cast members took notice of the film’s reckless spending at the time; co-star Andie MacDowell later told an interviewer: “I saw a lot of money being wasted while we were filming, which I did not understand and didn’t really even know how it was possible.” She specifically mentioned the film’s reshoots, and a scene featuring Charlton Heston that the producer admitted during filming might not end up in the movie. “That scene had to have cost a fortune,” MacDowell recalled. 

Some of the reshoots even necessitated waiting for cast members’ schedules to open up, which took a year. All in all, the production lasted for two whole years, which sounds more like the making of a Stanley Kubrick film, not a movie from the director of Hannah Montana: The Movie.

So Many Nancy Meyers Movies

Meyers has been dubbed the “Rom-Com Queen” — and just like a real Queen, she’s not exactly known for her thrift. Recently, Meyers’ proposed Netflix project fell through purely for financial reasons, with the director unsuccessfully fighting for a $150 million budget (Netflix only wanted to pony up a measly $130 million). Reportedly, $80 million would have been spent on “above the line costs” including big stars Scarlett Johansson and Owen Wilson — and presumably, the rest would have been spent on constructing the most unattainable kitchen in movie history.

But this wouldn’t be the first lofty price tag in Meyers career. It’s Complicated, the movie that features Meryl Streep as a divorcee and Steve Martin as a manic pixie dream architect, cost $85 million. Same goes for The Holiday, the movie that finally put Rose from Titanic together with Dewey from School of Rock. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $120 million today. Quick reminder: This movie is about two couples hanging out in some nice houses, and not, say, the Vietnam War. 

Similarly, Meyers’ delightful Diane Keaton-Jack Nicholson vehicle Something’s Gotta Give cost $80 million (turtleneck sweaters don’t grow on trees, you know). And back in 2000, What Women Want — the movie in which Mel Gibson has to electrocute himself to realize that women are human beings — was made for $70 million, thanks in no small part to Gibson’s $25 million salary.

To put that in perspective, just the year before What Women Want hit theaters, The Matrix was made for only $65 million (and, last time we checked, there was no “bullet-time” in What Women Want). Hell, the 2019 gender-swapped remake What Men Want was made for less money than Gibson’s paycheck alone: $19 million — and as an added bonus, it in no way featured the presence of Mel Gibson.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 

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