Posted June 21, 2012 by Myke Friscia in Movies

Million Dollar Milestones

MOVIE HISTORY: Tracking the history of a million dollars.

On Feb. 28th of this year, Disney began filming it’s megamillion dollar epic “The Lone Ranger” starring Johnny Depp.  There was much debating with producers and the studio of the budget.  Disney wanted the budget to be topped out at $215 million dollars, but Producer Jerry Bruckheimer wanted $250 million.    Eventually, producers agreed to cut their front end $$$ and some big budget action sequences out of the film.  Now it appears filming is way off schedule and way off budget, and is predicted to balloon over the $250 million dollar mark, making it on pace to be the 3rd or 4th most expensive films ever made.  Here’s a look at some million dollar milestones in the history of cinema.

1st movie to gross 1 million dollars – Birth of a Nation – 1915

1st actor to have a million dollar contract -  Charlie Chaplin   1918

1st actor to BE PAID 1 million dollars for a role -  Marlon Brando -  The fugitive Kind 1960

1st actor to EARN a million (including salary + back end) William Holden – 1957

1st Actress to be paid 1 million for a role Elizabeth Taylor – Cleopatra 1963

1st actress to earn a million in a year – Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford.  Hollywood’s first millionaire actress.  The Angelina Jolie of her time.

1st Actor to earn a million in a year – Charlie Chaplin

1st black actor to become a millionaire – Stepin Fetchit

1st child Actor to be paid 1 million – Shirley Temple

1st actor to be paid 1 million in 1st role ever – Eddie Murphy, 48hours

1st actor to get a million dollar yearly salary – Fatty Arbuckle 1919

1st Tv actor to be paid 1 million per episode – Tim Allen, Home improvement

1st Film with a million dollar budget – A Daughter of the Gods – 1916



Fox Studio founder William Fox produces the first million dollar budget film ever.  A great deal of money was spent to build the set of “Mermaid Land” in Jamaica.  Not just to build the set, but to build a massive enclosure to make it mosquito proof.   The film employed over 20,000 workers.  Unfortuneately, the film is lost.  The film was over 3 hours long and a commercial sucess, although highly controversial for showing nudity.

Biggest production budget movies of all time:

1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End 2007                      $300

2 Tangled 2010                                                                                  $260

3 Spider-Man 3 2007                                                                        $258 (what a waste)

4 John Carter 2012                                                                            $250

5 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009                        $250

6 Avatar 2009                                                                                     $237

7 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 2008                    $225

8 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 2006                $225

9 The Avengers 2012                                                                         $220

10 Men in Black 3 2012                                                                     $215

11 X-Men: The Last Stand 2006                                                     $210

12 Superman Returns 2006                                                            $209

13 Battleship 2012                                                                             $209

14 King Kong 2005                                                                            $207

The Lone Ranger?                                                                         $250+ and counting!


They love spending money on Johnny Depp.  Wouldn’t you?  Keep an eye out for Pirates 5.

Fastest movies to gross the $100 million dollars

Movie                                                                                             Days

  1. The Twilight Saga: New Moon                                          2
  2. The Dark Night
  3. Pirates of The Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2
  6. Spider Man 3
  7. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn pt. 1
  8. The Avengers
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire                                   3
  10. Toy Story 3
  11. Iron Man
  12. Iron Man 2
  13. Spider Man
  14. Shrek 3

Fastest to $200 Million

Movie                                                                                                      Days

  1. The Avengers                                                                                  3
  2. The Dark Night                                                                              5
  3. The Hunger Games                                                                       8

Fastest to $300 million

Movie                                                                                                       Days

  1. The Dark Night                                                                               10
  2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen                                          14
  3. Avatar                                                                                                15

Fastest to $400 million

Movie                                                                                                              Days

  1. The Dark Night                                                                                   18
  2. Avatar                                                                                                    23
  3. Shrek 3                                                                                                  43

Fastest to $500, 600, and 700 million  – Avatar.





Myke Friscia

Screenplay Analyst, Writer, Director of Development for Gallagher Literary Management, Little Monster. "Words are my Passion".