Movies That Made Millions On A Micro-Budget
A film is typically deemed successful based on its box office results. Companies spend millions with the hopes their product will be a blockbuster. Audiences are attracted to CGI graphics and lavish sets, but that all takes money.
Surprisingly, there are quite a few movies that flourished and made millions despite having low budgets.
The Blair Witch Project Soard On A Budget Of $60,000
The Blair Witch Project, released in 1999, was filmed with a budget of $60,000. It follows a fictional tale of three young filmmakers who mysteriously disappeared while filming a documentary.
But when it was released, the movie grossed an incredible $248,639,099 worldwide at the box office. This made it one of the most profitable movies of all time.
Paranormal Activity Crept To Success On A Budget Of $15,000
Paranormal Activity had a budget of only $15,000 but still earned a whopping $193.4 million at the box office.
Paranormal Activity is a suspenseful horror movie that follows a young couple battling against a demonic presence in their home. It leaves viewers on the edge of their seats and will have them talking about it long after it ends.
$27,000 Was Enough To Earn Clerks Millions
Clerks is a classic comedy from the 90s that defined slacker culture. The movie had an incredibly low budget of just $27,000, but despite that, it had a massive impact on pop culture. The movie went on to make over $3 million at the box office and turned into a cult classic.
Clerks broke boundaries by using crude language, surreal humor, and dark comedy, and its success proved that you could do a lot with a little. Its unique voice and memorable characters will continue to inspire creatives for years to come.
The Original Halloween Only Had A Budget Of $300,000
The horror/slasher movie Halloween was a big success due to its low budget. It was made for only $300,000 and was able to gross over $47 million.
It used simple yet effective camera work and a sinister musical score to increase tension. Its primary star, the masked killer Michael Myers, was particularly memorable and has gone on to become one of cinema’s most iconic characters.
Napoleon Dynamite Had Dry Humor And A $400,000 Budget
Napoleon Dynamite is a unique and charming comedy movie with a surprisingly low budget of $400,000. It was an unexpected box office hit, with $46 million grossed domestically.
The movie follows the awkward adventures of its title character, played by Jon Heder, and his lovable sidekick Pedro (Efren Ramirez), as they navigate their high school lives.
Evil Dead Scared Its Way To Millions With A $375,000 Budget
The Evil Dead is a cult classic horror film released in 1981. It was made on a budget of just $375,000 and grossed over $2.4 million in ticket sales, becoming the most profitable independent film of all time.
One critic’s quote about the film is, “The Evil Dead has a lot in common with slasher films, except a far greater originality, imagination, and sheer frenzy.”
She’s Gotta Have It (And Got It) With $175,000 To Work With
The movie that pretty much launched Spike Lee’s career, She’s Gotta Have It was created on a meager budget of $175,000. That didn’t stop the film from grossing $7.1 million at the box office!
The film was met with positive reviews from both audience viewers and critics. It even has a solid 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Open Water Shared The Deep Sea With A Budget Of $500,000
Open Water is a 2003 psychological horror film directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. Released in just 28 theaters, the film was made on a budget of around $500,000 and grossed about $55 million worldwide at the box office.
It is one of the most profitable independent films of all time.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Slashed Away With $320,000
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was made on a budget of only $320,000. It grossed $30 million at the box office due to its terrifying combination of horror and macabre realism.
Its success across all audiences has made it one of the greatest classic horror films and an inspirational work for modern horror directors.
El Mariachi: Budget – $7,000
Using locals as actors, a handheld camera, and working with no crew, 23-year-old Robert Rodriguez did the impossible and shot the action film El Mariachi on an astoundingly low budget of $7,000.
While the movie went direct-to-video in Mexico, it became a cult classic that spawned a silver-screen trilogy. Oh, and it made $2 million at the box office!
Another Earth Grossed Million Off Of $100,000
Another Earth is a 2011 low-budget independent science fiction movie directed by Mike Cahill. It tells the story of two strangers whose lives become intertwined when a duplicate Earth appears in the night sky.
Despite its modest budget of only $100,000, the movie grossed $1.9 million at the box office, making it one of the most successful independent films in history.
Saw Played A Game With A Budget Of $1.2 Million
Saw is a crime horror movie from 2004 with a budget of $1.2 million and a box office draw of $103.9 million.
It follows two men who wake up in a dilapidated bathroom and are forced to play a deadly game to survive. After the success of the first film, numerous sequels were made.
Eraserhead: Budget – $100,000
Eraserhead is one of the most iconic low-budget independent films of all time. Directed by David Lynch on a shoestring budget of $100,000, the film has since become a cult classic, thanks to its slot as a midnight movie.
Even with its low budget, the film went on to make a whopping $7.1 million at the box office.
Friday the 13th: Another Low-Budget Slasher Flick Of $550,000
Friday the 13th was a triumphant success. It achieved box office victory by earning an impressive $39.7 million off a budget of only $550,000, nearly a 70-fold return on investment.
It was a critical success that spawned infamous sequels and a television series. It was the ninth highest-grossing R-rated movie of the 1980s.
Rocky Fought For Its Millions Off Of $960,000
Rocky was released in 1976 on a measly budget of $960,000, yet grossed over $ 225 million at the box office, making it one of the highest-grossing pictures of the time.
Rocky was the first film in the Academy Award-nominated Rocky film series and won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Directing, and Editing.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Budget – $5 Million
My Big Fat Greek Wedding had a budget of $5 million and made a box office draw of $368 million worldwide. The film was very popular among audiences and remains a fan-favorite decades later.
It has an 82% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is considered one of the most successful independent films of all time.
With A $7.5M Budget, People Fell In Love With Juno‘s Story
Juno is charming, endearing, and honest. The Fox Searchlight picture was a low-budget movie, with a mere $7.5 million, yet it earned an impressive $231.4 million at the box office.
Elliot Page’s performance will leave you laughing, crying, and speaking in a Canadian accent for days. Juno is an honest and heart-warming movie about teenage life, pregnancy, and tough decisions.
The King’s Speech Had A Lot To Say About Its $15M Budget
The King’s Speech, released in 2010, had a budget of $15 million and earned an impressive $414 million profit at the box office.
The audience was impressed from start to finish by the amazing writing, the outstanding acting, and the heartwarming story. The film also tackled heavy and sensitive topics such as stuttering, family relationships, and the impact of the media on the monarchy.
Friday The 13th Part 2 Had $1.25 Million To Work With
The second installment of the Friday the 13th franchise, Friday the 13th Part 2, was released in theaters on May 1, 1981. The slasher flick had a slight budget of $1.25 million, but, due to the fan-fare surrounding the first film, people flocked to see the low-budget film.
At the box office, the movie made a whopping $21.7 million!
Slumdog Millionaire Played Its Way From $15M To Hundreds Of Millions
Slumdog Millionaire was a huge success, earning $377 million around the world with a budget of only $15 million.
Audiences praised its moving story, colorful characters, and strong performances. Furthermore, its daring, ambitious scope allowed viewers to experience a side of India rarely seen on film. The movie won eight of its ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Director.
The Social Network: Budget – $40 Million
The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, is an engaging, enthralling classic. With a budget of $40 million, it grossed an impressive $224,939,571.
Movie critic Peter Bradshaw proclaimed, “Fincher’s confident, stylish direction has produced what you might call an anti-establishment establishment movie.” A gripping take on the formation of Facebook, The Social Network is an unforgettable, timeless film.
The Exorcist Became Of Phenomenon, Grossing Over $400M
The Exorcist earned over $441 million from a $12 million budget, making it one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time.
Considered one of the best horror films of all time, its gripping story and shocking visuals earned it a well-deserved cult following.
The Full Monty: Budget – $3.5 Million
The Full Monty was an unexpected success considering its low budget, only requiring around $3.5 million of funding. The movie earned an astonishing $258.6 million worldwide and has since become a classic and a part of British culture.
It is a genuine, entertaining, and even touching story of lost young men finding redemption and learning to be proud of themselves. Highly recommended.
The Hurt Locker Blew Its $15M Budget Out Of The Water
The Hurt Locker is a critically acclaimed and award-winning film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Jeremy Renner. Released in 2008, it had a budget of around $15 million and earned over $49 million.
Critics have highly rated the film, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2010 and Bigelow the Best Director Oscar.
Donnie Darko Almost Doubled Its $4.5M Budget
Donnie Darko, released in 2001 with a budget of $4.5 million, was a commercial and critical success, grossing $7.5 million in the U.S. alone.
The movie was even more successful among teenagers and film critics, receiving an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a fan base numbering in the millions.
My Left Foot: Budget – $3 million
My Left Foot was one of the most successful films of 1989, earning over $20 million on a budget of $3 million. Critics and audiences alike appreciated the emotionally powerful story and Oscar-winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.
Audiences were moved to tears by his powerful portrayal of a man trapped by cerebral palsy but determined to succeed against all odds.
The Purge’s Budget Of $3M Was Nothing Compared To The Box Office Numbers
The Purge (2013), directed by James DeMonaco, had a budget of $3 million and earned an estimated $89.3 million in box office profits.
A review by Nigel Smith of The Guardian states, “DeMonaco has crafted an efficient, nasty piece of work that may not be brimming with originality, but makes an impact regardless.”
Mad Max Sped Past Its $150M At The Box Office
Mad Max (2015) was a post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. The film was made with a budget of $150 million and grossed a worldwide profit of $378.9 million.
The film earned praise from critics and audiences alike, with many noting its spectacular visuals and action sequences. The film also gained two Oscar nominations and won a Golden Globe for Best Action Movie.
American Graffiti‘s Box Office Earnings Hit Nine Didgets
American Graffiti is a classic teen comedy-drama starring Harrison Ford. Released in 1973 on a budget of 1.3 million dollars, the movie grossed over 100 million dollars at the box office and won several awards.
It’s still remembered fondly today as a timeless classic and continues to be a successful home video seller.
Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels: Budget – $1.3 Million
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a British crime comedy film released in 1998. Produced on a budget of $1.3 million, the film has made over $30.5 million at the box office.
An interesting fact about the film is that it was initially turned down by over 100 financiers before being picked up by a production company.
Nightmare On Elm Street Had $1.8M To Scare People With
A Nightmare on Elm Street was released in 1984 with a budget of $1.8 million, ultimately earning a worldwide gross of $25.7 million.
The first of the franchise received overwhelming critical acclaim from international publications such as the Los Angeles Times, which wrote, “Terrifying and comic, weird and concerned with contemporary youth issues.”