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POTC Characters. Why was the movie so expensive?

Why Was Pirates of the Caribbean 4 Movie So Expensive to Make?

Although most blockbuster films generate millions of dollars in sales, they are just as expensive to produce. The pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) movie broke global records with its production budget, especially after the fourth installation. 

So, why was pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger tides movie so expensive to make?

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was primarily expensive because of talent costs. Being the fourth sequel in a successful series, actors had negotiating power because the producers needed their characters for continuity. Location costs, equipment, and the use of CGI also contributed to the film’s high production costs.

This article looks at why Pirates of the Caribbean 4’s production budget was so big. Keep reading to find out if it’s actually the most expensive movie ever made.

About Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the fourth sequel in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie lineup. 

Released in 2011, the movie is an adventure, Swashbuckler film with a dash of comedy. It was also the first movie in the series not to be directed by Gore Verbinski, who was replaced by Rob Marshall.


The film is set in the middle of the 18th century and begins on the Spanish coast. Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), who also stars in the rest of the POTC movies, sets out to find the fountain of youth. He eventually finds it, but not without a few twists and turns along the way.


Surprisingly, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides received poor reviews from most critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it got 33% on the Tomatometer and 54% for the audience score. 

This is a significant decline from the prequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which got 44% on the Tomatometer and 72% from the audience. While that might sound impressive, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie got a staggering 80% on the Tomatometer and 86% from the audience score!

Therefore, it seems like the audience was less impressed with each new sequel.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Budget

According to Forbes, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had a total production budget of $410.6 million. While this amount sounds insane, it’s even more surprising to find out the film was shot in the UK and Hawaii to take advantage of the tax benefits for the films shot there.

Shooting in the UK made the film eligible for a credit scheme that allows movies with production costs of more than £20 million ($34.1 million) to claim up to 20% of their production budget.

Although the movie was released in 2011, its financial statements continued to be released years later as they related to prior periods. 

The final set was filed in early 2014 and showed that production costs between October 2009 and April 2013 amounted to £240.7 million ($ 410.6 million.)

Surprisingly, despite the lukewarm reception, Pirates of the Caribbean broke even pretty quickly and went on to gross over $1 billion at the Worldwide Box Office.

Why Did the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies Cost So Much to Make?

Pirates of the Caribbean movies broke many film budget records, which is surprising because they are not sci-fi or superhero movies. So, why were these swashbuckler films so expensive to make?

Talent Costs

Pirates of the Caribbean movies comprised of A-list cast members. From Johnny Depp, Kevin McNally, and Geoffrey Rush to Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. 

Some of these actors were already famous before the first POTC, which means they weren’t cheap.

However, thanks to the success of the first film, talent was even more expensive in the sequels. The agents now had negotiating power in the form of need. 

The producers needed particular characters (especially the main ones) for continuity. As a result, by the fourth and fifth installments, the actors were making millions of dollars in each film.

For instance, Johnny Depp alone is rumored to have made $90 million in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This was a lot more than the entire budget of some successful movies like Pulp Fiction and Mad Max.

Jonny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean
Johnny Depp, who plays Captain Jack Sparrow in POTC

Location Costs

Pirates of the Caribbean movies are set in the mid-18th century. Therefore, the sights and seen must look convincing. 

While the audience might overlook some flaws in the first movie, the sequels are expected to have impeccable scenes that immerse the audience into the plot.

After the first Pirates movie’s success, there was lots of location scouting and shooting for subsequent films.

Costly Equipment

As the series progressed, the crew needed new, modern equipment to improve the film’s quality. Although Disney already had some powerful cameras, lots of new filming equipment was bought exclusively for the POTC series. As a result, there’s a noticeable visual improvement throughout the series.

Extensive Use of CGI

The fourth production of the movie used a lot of CGI to develop scenes, fights, and even characters. The films also used it to try and chase deadlines. While the first movie can survive delays, fans are less patient with sequels.

At that point, CGI was a relatively new technology so it was quite expensive.

Read Also: Why is Divorce So Expensive? Or Is It?

 Is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Still the Most Expensive Movie Ever Made?

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, a movie from 2011, is still the most expensive movie ever made more than a decade later. 

With a production budget of more than $400 million, the only other movie that can come close is Avengers: Age of Ultron, which cost $365 million.

Is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Worth Watching?

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides received mixed reviews from both fans of the series and movie reviewers. However, most people were only disappointed that it didn’t live up to their expectations after watching the first three movies.

Therefore, if you’ve not watched any other POTC movies, you might actually enjoy it. You might also consider watching it if you’ve watched the first three and would like to complete the series.

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