One thing Hollywood has is money. Lots and lots of money. And as much of a drawback as that can be for some genres, for the right movies a big budget can bring big results.
Here’s the top 7 budget-busting sets ever constructed for a Hollywood Blockbuster. (Plus one honorable mention.)
• Waterworld wasn’t an awful movie. In fact, considered as part of the B-movie post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi genre, it’s actually pretty good.
Even so, shooting on the actual ocean killed the movie’s budget, and budget woes tanked the movie even before it opened. Sorry, Mariner, but this one just sank.
(Literally. A hurricane blew a critical set piece, not part of the Atoll, out to sea and sank it. It had to be rebuilt, at tremendous cost.)
• Am I the only one who found Batman’s Art Deco Gotham City to be charming and retro-futuristic? The statues, the towering buildings, the strange angles, all of it was Art Deco, yes, but strangely Gothic. Perfect for the Dark Knight.
• Hollywood builds a fake Egyptian city, that is lost beneath the sands, until archaeologists unearth it. Only in Hollywood, folks!
(What about a movie about a real curse on a fake Egyptian city? Comedy-horror gold!)
• Metropolis proves that CGI isn’t the end-all and be-all of SFX. Digital compositing? Fine. Digital everything? Fake.
• Buried was a good film. Ryan Reynolds really can act. Who knew?
• Re: Bricksburg. A computer animated MOVIE has no sets, any more than Disney’s Snow White does.
Sin City? Digital sets. The Phantom Menace? Digital sets. The Lego Movie? Digital animation.
There’s a difference.
• Hobbiton. Utterly incredible. Could have been faked for much less money, but they spent the money right. Breathtaking verisimilitude.
(Hobbiton is 16 YEARS OLD? When did that happen?)
• Dau. Okay.
• Using a jet airliner to shoot 4 hours of free-fall footage, 25 seconds at a time? That’s incredibly ambitious. And worth it, as Apollo 13 was a cinematic triumph.
• They left out the best part of The Abyss’s set. Shooting in 50-ft. water is fine and all, but it’ll never look as dark as Deep Core should, 1700 feet below the surface.
To simulate the black of the deep ocean, they covered the surface of the tank with floating black plastic beads. It blocked the sunlight, making the shallow set as dark as the plummeting depths.
(Also, The Abyss? 26 YEARS OLD. Congratulations, grandpa.)
Many times Hollywood wastes its mega-budgets on cookie cutter almost-stars and fabulously fake CGI effects. In these 7 cases, they got it right.
(Who am I leaving out? Dau, The Lego Movie, and Dogville. I’m adding Buried in for honorable mention, because it really was an excellent film.)