You’ve had a good look at some of the craziest stunts you wouldn’t believe aren’t CGI, and now we’d like to give you the most over-the-top, expensive and unprecedented stunts in Hollywood history. From blowing up shit in the sky to 82-horse chariot races, these little stunts cost film studios a pretty penny. While stunts like shutting down Times Square for Tom Cruise’s 90-minute “Vanilla Sky” sprint are impressive, there are an abundance of high-ticket stunts and sets that cost more money and take more time to pull off than most full-length feature films. Please enjoy with popcorn for the full effect.
“Inception” Moving Hallway
With a classic trailer whose musical score haunted every trailer to follow it, one visual we easily recall is the spinning and folding hallway of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” Known for expensive sets and great effects — even if there are plot holes in the writing — Nolan introduced the concept of a zero-gravity fight chamber towards the film’s end. This 100-foot spinning set was built in three parts, constructed by nearly 500 crew members over three weeks and contributed largely to the film’s $160 million budget.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” Aerial Jumps
While the reboot cost $250 million to make, the biggest difference between the old Spider-Man and the new one is that Andrew Garfield’s character shot his webs in expensive aerial stunts. Director Mark Webb — Webb, what are the odds? — wanted to differentiate from past CGI swinging and so hired a stunt man and invested a lot of time, money and manpower into curating real-life swinging for his red-hooded hero. Rigs as tall as 300 feet were built to add a believability effect to the character’s reboot. This gives justice to the “amazing” in the rebooted title.
“Cliffhanger” 15,000-Foot Rope Aerial
In 1993, the film entered the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most expensive aerial stunt in film history. Simon Crane, the stuntman paid $1 million for his job well done, climbed a rope between two planes without a safety harness at 15,000 feet. The set was refused insurance as the planes were both required to fly exactly 150 miles per hour to avoid any catastrophes, in addition to any number of other things that could go wrong. Crane still performed the stunt and got his big pay day. This is right up there with Tom Cruise taking off in “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.”
“Terminator 2” Helicopter Chase
The film spent more than $50 million on stunts and effects, which is a lot for a film back in the early ’90s. James Cameron became a stuntman/cameraman in order to capture the film’s most nail-biting, noteworthy stunt in its helicopter chase. The scene required the helicopter to fly very low to the ground, clearing under an overpass, and even though the crew bailed on Cameron, he still got the shot himself. Too bad he didn’t take a badass selfie while he was at it.
“Dark Knight Rises” Plane-Jack
The opening minutes of Christopher Nolan’s concluding “Dark Knight” chapter gave new meaning to plane-jacking when the daring director — in IMAX camera quality — captured a two-plane heist scene that was almost all real. In the scene, one plane hijacked another, flipping it on its end and ripping its wings off. Though the original smaller plane was replaced with one that would break down and plummet to the Earth, the skydivers who dropped in on cables and exited the plane were all real stuntmen hanging from the larger plane. With a budget of $257 million, Nolan had the time and space to pull off his stunt just right while watching from his helicopter.
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” Skyscraper Free Climb
Not only is Tom Cruise a part of the crazy stunts by real actors, the films he performs stunts in have some of the most expensive scenes as well. In the fourth “M: I” installment, “Ghost Protocol,” director Brad Bird designed a free climb for Cruise on the largest building in the tall city of Dubai, this one higher than 2,700 feet. Bird had to create a smaller replica for Cruise to practice climbing with high-tech electric gloves — whatever happened to suction cups? — on a higher part of the building’s glass wall. The wall was built in Dubai, then flown — yes, flown — to Prague where they were shooting. The cost of building the props, the time to orchestrate the scene and paying the high-dollar Ethan Hunt to do his own stunt — insure him too — ran the bill on the film up to $150 million.
“The Matrix Reloaded” Prop Highway
The first of the back-to-back sequels to the 1999 classic original “The Matrix,” featured a high-speed highway scene in which the characters were running atop semi trucks in high-intensity fight and crash scenes. The scene was so long and in-depth that it became too time-consuming and costly to shut down any real major highway, so they built their own, which cost about $2.5 million. With a budget of about $127 million, the film destroyed about 300 cars donated by General Motors and took nearly three months just to shoot the highway scene.
“Iron Man 3” Air Force One Explosion
Robert Downey Jr. has been known for getting high in the past, but this scene from “Iron Man 3” took the red-metal billionaire to new heights. When Air Force One had its passengers sucked into free-fall, a team of Red Bull skydivers stood in, one wearing a red and gold jumpsuit with another filming while most of the heroic action is caught in real time free-fall. The film cost about $300 million to make, which makes sense when you consider multiple free-falling bodies shooting aerial dynamics amidst the high-quality CGI of an airplane explosion.
“Ben-Hur” The $4 Million Chariot Race
Still to this day, Charlton Heston’s chariot scene holds a strong tally for one of the most expensive and unprecedented stunts in movie history. For 1959, $4 million was a lot of money, an insane amount, in fact. The chariot race in “Ben-Hur” cost that much and made up a quarter of the film’s budget, including planning, training and sets built by close to a thousand men over a few months’ time. With 82 horses brought into Rome, trained and coordinated with the stuntman and Heston, the nearly four-hour action film holds its place in film history.
THE 9 MOST EXPENSIVE AND UNPRECEDENTED STUNTS IN MOVIE HISTORY