To become a powerhouse pop star, you need a few powerhouse music videos in your arsenal—and they don’t come cheap.
In fact, big time music videos can cost the same amount as small major Hollywood films, with budgets ranging from $2 to $7 million dollars. Hey, it’s a small price to pay for eternal fame. With the MTV Video Music Awards approaching on September 6th, scroll through our recap of the videos that cost the most to make for a little refresher course.
What are your favorite big-budget videos?
Maybe Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" video released in 1996 was so expensive to produce ($2.3 million, to be exact), because it was shot at the official summer palace of the Austrian emperor. But no matter how much it cost or how may royals were involved, it was a small price to pay to have women the world over swooning for Dion's fictional lover-boy, who dies in an explosive motorcycle crash.
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Does it get any better than Busta Rhymes in silver knight armor and Janet Jackson in purple latex? The answer is clearly no, which is why Busta's "What's It Going To Be" video released in 1999—and which cost a whopping $2.4 million to produce—lives on in music video infamy.
Considering Mariah Carey's natural—ahem—talents do most of the work in her "Heartbreaker" video released in 1999, it's difficult to say why, exactly, it cost $2.5 million to produce. Which isn't to say it's not a blast to watch. Set in a movie theater, Carey does some serious booty-shaking in low slung jeans and a crop top while pursuing a stolen boyfriend.
Sure, he wears silly pants, but we dare you to watch MC Hammer's video for "2 Legit 2 Quit"—which cost a respectable $2.5 million to make and was released in 1991—and not have the song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
The third installment of Del James' surreal music video trilogy for Guns n' Roses, "Estranged"—which cost $4 million to produce in 1993—begins with Axl Rose being pursued by a SWAT team while he's hiding in an abandoned mansion, and ends, somewhat puzzlingly, with his attempted suicide at the edge of an oil tanker. But don't worry, folks, he's rescued by some bottle-nosed dolphins.
For $4 million dollars, Michael Jackson got a co-star in child star Macaulay Culkin for his over-the-top "Black and White" video released in 1991, which features everything from painted African warriors to traditional Thai dancers, not to mention some seriously bright '90s garb, as evidenced by the picture above.
David Fincher's controversial video for "Express Yourself"—which came in at $5 million in 1989—featured a gender-bending Madonna clad in a double-breasted power suit (grabbing, Michael Jackson style, at her nether-regions) in a noir reality modeled after the classic film, Metropolis. In the video, Madonna has to choose a date from a fleet of muscly male slave-workers.
Madonna's $6 million dollar video for 2002's "Die Another Day"—so-named for the James Bond movie it was written for—has an edgy action movie vibe, with the Queen of Pop recreating scenes from Dr. No, Goldfinger, and even (somewhat randomly) The Empire Strikes Back in bloodied tank tops and combat boots.
At a cool $7 million dollars, Michael Jackson's 1995 video for "Scream" remains the number one most expensive music video ever made. Directed by Mark Romanek, the video depicts Jackson and his sister Janet escaping the pressures of planet Earth aboard a super-modern space craft. Adjust for today's inflation and the video actually cost over $10 million to make.