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The Biggest Movie Sets in Film History

Updated July 13, 2020 67.5k views27 items

In Hollywood and the movie business, big film budgets mean big sets and on this list of the biggest movies sets of all-time, we see production and set design elevated to a grand scale. From Titanic and The Ten Commandments to Batman and Fast & Furious 6, we've included the most massive and expansive of the big movie sets in this list. 

Famous film directors like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Cecil B. DeMille have directed on some of the biggest movie sets of all time, many of them with budgets that spiraled out of control and way beyond what anybody expected. Take a look at these big movie sets and prepare to be amazed by the lengths to which filmmakers and movie studios will go in the pursuit of memorable motion pictures!

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  • William Wyler had 1,000 workers carve away at a rock quarry to create the arena that was designed based on a Jerusalem circus. More than 40,000 pounds of lumber were used to construct the set, which was populated by around 10,000 extras. The scene alone cost $8 million in today's money.

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  • The Hobbit (2012) is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Biggest Movie Sets in Film History
    Photo: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Warner Bros. Pictures

    If we're going to make a list of the biggest movie sets, then Peter Jackson's The Hobbit needs to be on this list. While the country of New Zealand is certainly featured prominently in both The Hobbit trilogy and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the 522,720 square foot Hobbiton certainly stands out. As a matter of fact, the set has become a popular tourist attraction in New Zealand.

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  • In 1923, filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille oversaw the construction of the most expensive film in history up to that point: the epic The Ten Commandments. When filming was completed, DeMille ordered that the entire set be dismantled and buried. It laid forgotten for around 90 years when, in 2012, a group of archaeologists began searching for the remains of the set. They unearthed at least twenty plaster Sphinx heads that weighed 300 pounds eachWithout special effects, the crew had to actually create the monumental statues that would appear on film, contributing to the exorbitant budget of The Ten Commandments. The film cost at least $1.4 million, which is about $21 million in contemporary costs.

  • This Frank Capra classic that has since become a Christmas tradition featured a four acre set that was assembled in three parts. Originally designed by art director Max Ree for the 1931 epic film Cimarron, the set featured a main street that stretched three city blocks (300 yards), complete with 75 stores and buildings and a residential neighborhood. Capra also had a working bank and a center parkway added to the set, including 20 full grown oak trees. Pigeons, cats, and dogs were allowed to roam the massive set in order to make the set feel more natural.

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