18 Movies Where Budget Cuts Are Painfully Obvious

It’s an expensive task to make a movie, and it’s all too easy to go over budget. Sometimes, studios handle this well by adapting the production as needed, but other times, it’s not quite so simple. Here are 18 movies where it’s clear they went over budget a bit too soon.

The Snowman

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

The psychological horror movie The Snowman focuses on Inspector Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) and his hunt for a serial killer who leaves something related to a snowman at every murder scene. A rushed production schedule contributed to burning the budget, resulting in a disappointing end in which the villain conveniently falls through the ice.

Blood Debts

Photo Credit: Silver Star Film .

The Filipino action movie Blood Debts follows Mark Collins, who becomes a vigilante after watching his daughter being murdered.  After the movie focuses on him hunting down the murderers and trying to rescue his wife, it’s distinctly jarring when the final scene cuts off to tell the ending with overlaid text. This ending was so notorious it has since become a popular meme.

Slender Man

Photo Credit: Screen Gems.

Based on the character of the same name, Slender Man already seemed to be an attempt to cash in on a horror craze. It had a fairly low budget, so it struggled from the start. But it immediately became obvious to viewers that there simply wasn’t enough money to make the movie, with several key scare scenes missing due to the lack of funds.

Masters of the Universe

Photo Credit: The Cannon Group.

Based on the popular cartoon and toy line, Masters of the Universe was an ambitious project without the funds to back it up. This was never more apparent than in the final scene when an abrupt drop in quality meant that He-Man and Skeletor were fighting in a void of nothingness, with minimal special effects. Despite these problems, the movie has gone on to achieve cult status.

Gods of Egypt

Photo Credit: Lionsgate.

Gods of Egypt was given a significant budget of $140 million, but it still wasn’t enough for the final production. It managed fairly well throughout filming, but it discovered the money had run out while post-production was ongoing, resulting in underwhelming special effects. It failed to perform at the box office and received universally negative reviews from critics.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

Unsurprisingly, Monty Python and the Holy Grail ran out of money, as the production never had much to start with. This explains why the plot ends abruptly when the money runs out, with the characters interrupted by the police arresting everyone. Unlike other movies in this list, this was an excellent way to deal with the problem and added an extra layer of humor to the movie.

Othello

Photo Credit: United Artists.

Orson Welles wrote, directed, and starred in Othello, a movie he struggled to make because no one would fund it. This led to some creative ways to cut corners, including stealing a mink coat from his prior movie, The Black Rose. When the costumes for Othello were impounded, he simply moved filming to the Turkish baths so that he didn’t have to spend any more money on clothes.

Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings

Photo Credit: United Artists.

When animator Ralph Bakshi heard that director John Boorman wanted to compress the entire Lord of the Rings to one 100-minute movie, he was horrified and decided to do better with an animated movie of all three. Despite securing the rights, the funding ran out when only two books were adapted, resulting in an unusual decision to miss the final novel.

World War Z

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The zombie action movie World War Z is another example of one that’s too ambitious for its budget, even though it was working with around $200 million. When the original final scenes didn’t perform well with test viewers, they were rewritten. This meant earlier events in the movie didn’t make sense, with the new ending criticized for being anti-climactic.

Popeye

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

A musical comedy adaptation of the comic character Popeye, the movie of the same name was working with a budget of $20 million. With the movie being shot in order, it’s easy to tell that they had overspent when it started with elaborate set pieces and ended in a battle against an unconvincing giant octopus.

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

The action-adventure movie The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior is a prequel to The Scorpion King from 2002. Focusing on Mathayus (Michael Copon) in his younger years, the movie sees him go on a quest for vengeance. But the production money had ended by the final battle, where the scorpion he was supposed to be fighting was invisible, making it an anti-climax for viewers.

Dungeons & Dragons

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

The 2000 fantasy adventure movie Dungeons & Dragons is based on the tabletop game and follows a group of adventurers as they go on a quest for the Rod of Savrille. The characters enter a magical map at one point, but the budget wouldn’t allow the movie to show this. Instead, we get an unsatisfactory conversation recap.

Super Mario Bros.

Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

Based on the video game of the same name, Super Mario Bros. was the first and only adaptation until 2023. The movie was a disaster, going way over budget and failing to make it back at the box office. The initial script would have seen Mario scaling the Brooklyn Bridge in a grand finale, but budget restrictions meant this was scrapped completely.

Spawn

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

The superhero movie Spawn is based on the comic book character of the same name, following his origin story. Promising excellent CGI, it didn’t have the money to keep this up and ended up with an unconvincing mess.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Directed by William Shatner, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was plagued with cast disagreements and budget issues from the start of production. Shatner had originally conceived the climax as an intense scene featuring granite monsters running rampant. A lack of money meant that this was severely cut down, and the special effects were rewritten.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

This fantasy slasher movie is a direct sequel to A Nightmare of Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and sees the characters again facing off against Freddy Krueger as he stalks them in their dreams. The depleted budget meant that Rick’s death, originally planned as a dramatic scene with an elevator falling away beneath him, was reduced to an invisible Freddy beating him up.

Escape from L.A.

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

A sequel to the highly successful Escape from New York, Escape from L.A., once again follows Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), this time after an earthquake has struck Los Angeles. This movie failed to live up to its predecessor’s reputation, with viewers pointing to the submarine scene as an example of the low budget and poor quality.

Batman: The Movie

Photo Credit: 20th Century-Fox.

Released in 1966, the superhero movie Batman starred Adam West as the titular character and Burt Ward as Robin, following the first season of the TV show. The special effects left much to be desired, with a particular lowlight being a porpoise sacrificing itself to intercept a missile, all of which takes place off-screen.

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Sophie Baxter

Writer & Blogger

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