Back in 1997 it was big news when James Cameron spent $200 million on his sinking-ship movie; then Titanic grossed $1.8 billion worldwide, and all was forgiven. Today Hollywood sees a $200 million budget as an acceptable gamble for a picture with blockbuster hopes. As often as not, the bet pays off. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen cost that much, but has earned $826 million worldwide; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came in at $250 million and has taken in $868 million. The one semifizzle among superpricey films: Terminator Salvation, whose $370 million worldwide gross means that, after costs, it will just about make back its $200 million budget.
Five other films in the summer's top 10 domestic winners Up, Star Trek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Angels & Demons had budgets of at least $150 million. Their sponsors must have been pleased, since each of the five earned more than $350 million worldwide. The only real bargains were the two comedies, The Hangover ($35 million budget, $268 million domestic gross) and Sandra Bullock's The Proposal ($40 million, $159 million domestic gross), and the animated feature Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Costing $90 million, about half the budget of Up, it has registered a foreign gross nearly six times that of the Pixar film. That's money well spent.
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