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Oscar movie budgets: The most and least expensive best-picture winners


The Oscars’ best-picture award can go to a low-budget indie darling or a monstrous hit with a blockbuster budget to match. And looking back at the winners, comparing budgets gets tricky because of inflation.

A movie that had what seems like a low budget could actually be quite expensive when adjusted for inflation.

Thankfully, Reddit user Joe Falchetto put all the work of adjusting the budgets of best pictures for inflation into one chart, so we can see what movies really cost the most.

“Titanic,” the epic 1998 Oscar winner, tops the chart of priciest best pictures by millions of dollars. Behind it comes “Gladiator,” the 2001 best-picture winner, and “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” which won best picture in 2004.

According to Box Office Mojo, the 1997 budget for “Titanic” was about $200 million. And according to an inflation calculator, that equals $302,603,115.26 in today’s US dollars.

The best-picture winners with the lowest budgets adjusted for inflation include “Moonlight” (2016), “Crash” (2005), and “Rocky” (1976).

“Crash” had a budget of $6.4 million. Adjusted for 2017, that would be $8,227,472.74. The budget for “Rocky” was $1.1 million in 1976, or in today’s dollars, $4,694,602.81.

This chart documents the budgets of the last 50 Oscar best-picture winners, adjusted for inflation:


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