Determining which movie holds the record for the longest running time or most expensive budget can be a tricky task. The Guinness Book of World Records tracks all kinds of superlatives, including in the world of cinema. Let’s examine some of the top contenders for the biggest, longest, most expensive, or highest grossing films of all time.
Longest Running Time
When it comes to the longest running time, the current Guinness World Record holder is a 1964 Hungarian film called Modern Times Forever. This experimental film has a runtime of 240 hours, or 10 full days! It was first displayed in its entirety at an art exhibition in Sweden in 2011. The intent behind the extremely long running time was to create a film that could be considered “infinite.”
Here are some other ultra long films that have vied for the record over the years:
- Logistics (2012) – 510 hours (over 21 days)
- The Cure for Insomnia (1987) – 87 hours (3 days, 15 hours)
- The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World (1970) – 48 hours
While Logistics and The Cure for Insomnia exceed 10 days in length, Guinness only recognized Modern Times Forever as the official record holder when it was first displayed in full in 2011. Some theorize this is because the older films were not displayed in their entirety in a major public exhibition upon their release.
In terms of budget, the most expensive film ever made was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with an estimated budget of $378.5 million. This 2011 Disney film holds the Guinness World Record for the highest budget ever, when adjusting for inflation.
Here are some other of the most expensive films ever made:
|Film||Budget||Adjusted for Inflation|
|Avengers: Endgame (2019)||$356 million||$365 million|
|Avengers: Infinity War (2018)||$316 million||$325 million|
|Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens (2015)||$306 million||$320 million|
|Justice League (2017)||$300 million||$310 million|
|Star Wars Ep. VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)||$275 million||$283 million|
While the superhero films Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War had higher production budgets than On Stranger Tides, the Pirates of the Caribbean film still takes the record when adjusting older budgets for inflation to today’s dollars.
Highest Grossing Film
In terms of box office gross, the highest grossing film of all time is Avengers: Endgame, which grossed $2.797 billion worldwide in 2019. Avatar previously held the record before being surpassed by Avengers: Endgame two years after its release. Here are the top 5 highest grossing films:
|Avengers: Endgame (2019)||$2.797 billion|
|Avatar (2009)||$2.789 billion|
|Titanic (1997)||$2.187 billion|
|Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens (2015)||$2.068 billion|
|Avengers: Infinity War (2018)||$2.048 billion|
James Cameron holds the distinction of directing the top two worldwide grossing films of all time with Avatar at #2 and Titanic at #3. Disney and Marvel Studios dominate the list with four entries in the top 5 highest grossing films globally.
Longest Continuous Shot
While runtime measures the total length of a film, another record category is the longest continuous uninterrupted shot within a film. For this, the record holder is the 2020 war film 1917, which contains a shot lasting 34 minutes and 5 seconds. This shot occurs near the climax of the film and follows two British soldiers crossing enemy lines to deliver a message during World War I.
Here are some other films that contain extremely long continuous shots:
- Birdman (2014) – 15 minutes
- The Player (1992) – 8 minutes
- Snake Eyes (1998) – 13 minutes
- Victoria (2015) – nearly 2 hours
While Victoria was filmed in a single continuous take over 2 hours, 1917 broke the record for the longest uninterrupted shot thanks to advanced planning, special equipment, and seamless editing to stitch different takes together.
Most Expensive Item Used in a Film
In addition to records for overall budget, films can also set records for featuring the most expensive individual item during production. For this claim, the current record holder is the upcoming 2023 film Oppenheimer directed by Christopher Nolan.
This biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer features the use of a rare original 1945 J. Robert Oppenheimer 10 carat diamond ring valued at $165 million.
The ring will be worn by actor Cillian Murphy who portrays Oppenheimer. This exceeds the previous record of a $150 million yacht wrecked in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
Other films featuring ultra-expensive props or items include:
- Titanic (1997) – $150-200 million replica ship
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – $94.4 million for 900+ visual effects shots
- Interstellar (2014) – $100 million to develop new filmmaking technologies
Most Successful Film Franchise
Looking beyond individual films, the most successful movie franchise of all time in terms of worldwide box office gross is the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced by Marvel Studios. Since launching in 2008 with Iron Man, this interconnected franchise has grossed over $26.8 billion total over 29 films as of late 2022.
Here are the top 5 highest grossing film franchises of all time:
|Marvel Cinematic Universe||$26.8 billion|
|Star Wars||$11 billion|
|James Bond||$9.3 billion|
|The Wizarding World / Harry Potter||$9.2 billion|
|Middle Earth||$6.3 billion|
In addition to an astronomical box office gross, the Marvel Cinematic Universe holds several other records including:
- Highest grossing film of all time (Avengers: Endgame)
- Most films grossing over $1 billion (7 films)
- Highest grossing opening weekend (Avengers: Endgame)
No other franchise comes close to Marvel in terms of financial success and longevity, with at least a dozen upcoming projects already slated for Phase 5 and 6 of the MCU.
Reviewing the major categories, here are the current Guinness World Record holders in the world of cinema:
- Longest running time – Modern Times Forever at 240 hours
- Highest budget – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at $378.5 million
- Highest grossing film – Avengers: Endgame at $2.797 billion
- Longest continuous shot – 1917 at 34 minutes
- Most expensive prop – Oppenheimer 45 carat diamond ring at $165 million
- Most successful franchise – Marvel Cinematic Universe at $26.8 billion
From long experimental films to action packed superhero blockbusters, the Guinness Book of World Records highlights the remarkable achievements across all genres and budgets. The records also reflect changing technologies and expectations in the film industry. As filmmaking techniques and distribution models continue to evolve, it will be exciting to see what new records are set in the future!