While most people would expect a series’ budgets to gradually increase with each sequel movie, that’s not exactly the case with the Batman film franchise. The production costs of Warner Bros. release so many yo-yos, which makes the movies even more fascinating.
Budgets all depend on action sequences, movie stars and even reshoots, all of which are big factors when it comes to producing Batman movies. And in several cases, supporting actors even had higher salaries than lead actors, and a movie had a lower budget than one that came out eight years before it too.
ten Batman (1966) – $1.5 million
Filmed in the 1960s, it’s no surprise that Batman only cost $1.5 million to manufacture. And even then, it was quite a low budget. However, the 1966 Batman isn’t exactly what Batman is today, as there are no huge stunts or sets, and there were certainly no digital effects.
Plus, the studio had already built most of the sets and costumes thanks to the TV series that debuted in 1964. The only thing the studio really had to pay for were the cast and crew salaries, which most almost certainly went to Adam West.
9 Batman (1989) – $48 million
Batman is a classic and one of the greatest comic book movies ever made, and that’s why fans are so excited to see Michael Keaton return in The Flash Movie. Tim Burton turned the caped crusader into a trademark, and while the character has always been popular, it’s thanks to Batman that everyone in the 90s wore the Batman logo on t-shirts and belt buckles. But it took a huge budget to get there.
While many of Gotham’s background views are mostly oil paintings in the film, from landmarks like the cathedral and Ace Chemicals to the Batmobile, it’s no surprise the film cost nearly $50. million dollars to Warner Bros. However, if Warner Bros. cast absolutely anyone else as the Joker, the studio could have saved a good chunk of the budget. Jack Nicholson’s salary for Batman was $6 million, not to mention all the money he made from back-end profits.
8 Batman Returns (1992) – $80 million
Thanks to the phenomenal success of Batman, Warner Bros. gave Burton an even bigger budget to play with. It’s evident from the massive landmarks, even more star power, including Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and Danny DeVito, and plenty more action. But, in hindsight, Burton’s increased budget and creative freedom was a mistake, as the sequel made $150 million less than the original.
The rule of thumb in Hollywood is that the marketing budget is the same cost as the production budget, and that’s no more obvious than with Return of Batman. While the film’s production cost was $80 million, it’s unclear how much of the total was spent by Warner Bros. For the movie. The studio even invested money in toys that came with McDonald’s Happy Meals, which caused controversy at the time because the film was much darker than its predecessor and not exactly kid-friendly.
7 Batman Forever (1995) – $100 million
After Return of BatmanWarner Bros. continues to gradually increase the budget of the series with batman forever. Only this time it was under a new filmmaker, Joel Schumacher. Regardless of the film’s reviews, the production is absolutely spectacular, the set design is so well designed, and it attracted some of the most beloved and bankable actors of the era.
Unfortunately, a large chunk of the budget was spent on jaw-dropping deleted scenes that fans won’t see in high definition. Although the film is reputed to be the beginning of the series’ kitschy, toy-focused downward spiral, it was originally very different. There are incredible moments that were cut from the film that almost make it worthy of its own Snyder cut.
6 Batman Begins (2005) – $150 million
Although batman begins came eight years after the previous Batman movie, it still had a lower budget, which was $150 million. The reason for the lower budget could simply be because the script that was written did not require such a high production budget. But it may also be because the previous film, batman and robinwas a huge box office bomb, and giving another film about the caped crusader such a high budget would be just as risky.
The studio was essentially right to do so. Although the film was a success in that it was the start of a billion dollar trilogy, batman begins was only a modest hit, earning $373 million. A higher budget might have prevented it from turning a profit given the marketing costs.
5 Batman and Robin (1997) – $160 million
batman and robin had the biggest budget increase between the films, as it had a production cost of $60 million more than batman foreveraccording to New York Times, and it’s clear again where that money went. In 1997, the likes of Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger came at no cost.
Schwarzenegger’s salary for the movie put Jack Nicholson to shame, earning $25 million for reciting a bunch of ice cream-related puns. And the former bodybuilder was such a bankable star that he headlined above George Clooney, the film’s lead actor. Unfortunately, while batman and robin might be underrated, the film bombed at the box office, temporarily killing the Batman film franchise.
4 The Dark Knight (2008) – $185 million
Of course, as sequels do, The black Knight had a budget increase, and in this case, it wasn’t just worth it, but it ended up outperforming at the box office and probably even shocking Warner Bros. execs. The black KnightIt had a budget of $185 million and was the first ever superhero film to gross over $1 billion worldwide.
However, while Christopher Nolan is such a reliable director because he often finishes production well on time and well under budget, that might not have been the case with The black Knight. $500,000 of that $185 million budget was the cost of replacing an IMAX camera, which Nolan destroyed while filming the scene where the truck rolls over into the street.
3 The Batman (2022) – $200 million
This year The Batman was first reported as having a budget of $100 million, which is interesting given that there was no budget for a Batman movie this low in 27 years. He mostly gave credence to the fact that the film was promised to be more of a detective film, and it doesn’t need such a high budget if it lacks action and sets.
However, after seeing the new movie, no one would ever believe that the whole spectacle and all the huge action sequences of The Batman were made on a relatively small budget of $100 million. The actual budget has since been revealed to be $200 million, which makes much more sense.
2 The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $250 million
There’s no way The dark knight rises could have been achieved on a budget of less than $250 million, which was reported by the Los Angeles Times. Every dollar is accounted for on screen. Whether it’s The Bat, the utter destruction of Gotham City, or the thousands of extras in the final act, the movie looks so expensive.
Also, Nolan is not a fan of digital effects and he prefers to do practically everything as much as possible, which is often much more expensive than paying digital artists by the hour. But while the $70 million budget was artistically worth it, he struggled to make more than The black Knight at the box office, as it pulled almost exactly the same around the world.
1 Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – $300 million
It would not be surprising if it were revealed that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was still running at a loss and failed to break out of red when it left the multiplexes. According to The Hollywood Reporterthe movie had an inflated budget of $300 million, and it probably had an equally inflated budget in terms of marketing costs, and then there’s the cut that theaters take, no matter how small.
When a movie has both “Batman” and “Superman” in the title, it should theoretically make over $1 billion. The 2016 film was too polarizing among audiences, and it didn’t quite get the repeat viewings of Marvel movies.
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