Low Budget Movies That Paid Off Bigby urbanemovies | created - 17 Jan 2016 | updated - 3 days ago | Public
Low budgets films allow investors to reap potentially huge returns on their investment. While budget caps vary throughout the world and time, one authoritative definition sets the top end of the limit for movies with a current budget under $2,500,000. On both sides of the camera, many of today's biggest stars first honed their skills on low budget films. These films launched or served as a breakthrough for many in many of their careers.
Which one of these wildly successful low budget ($250,000 < $1,500,000) movies* is your favorite? * Movies with a minimum 6.0 IMDb user rating, excludes micro-budget (<$250,000) films and uses just one type of movie income stream (box office) for comparison.
Vote in the companion poll: Micro Budget Movies That Paid Off Big
Discuss the topic here.
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1. Mad Max (1979)
R | 88 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.
Votes: 196,317 | Gross: $8.75M
2. Rocky (1976)
PG | 120 min | Drama, Sport
A small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavyweight champion in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
Votes: 533,257 | Gross: $117.24M
3. The Breakfast Club (1985)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama
Five high school students meet in Saturday detention and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.
Votes: 367,688 | Gross: $45.88M
4. Easy Rider (1969)
R | 95 min | Adventure, Drama
Two bikers head from L.A. to New Orleans through the open country and desert lands, and along the way they meet a man who bridges a counter-culture gap of which they had been unaware.
Votes: 103,884 | Gross: $41.73M
5. American Graffiti (1973)
PG | 110 min | Comedy, Drama
A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.
Votes: 84,274 | Gross: $115.00M
6. Sholay (1975)
Not Rated | 162 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
After his family is murdered by a notorious and ruthless bandit, a former police officer enlists the services of two outlaws to capture the bandit.
Director: Ramesh Sippy
Box Office: $67,000,000
Profit %: 16,650%
7. Halloween (1978)
R | 91 min | Horror, Thriller
Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again.
Votes: 239,560 | Gross: $47.00M
8. Friday the 13th (1980)
R | 95 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which was the site of a child's drowning and a grisly double murder years before.
Votes: 124,536 | Gross: $39.75M
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Box Office: $59,000,000
Profit %: 11,700%
* launched Friday 13th movie franchise
9. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
PG | 96 min | Comedy
A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.
Votes: 204,273 | Gross: $44.54M
10. Enter the Dragon (1973)
R | 102 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A secret agent comes to an opium lord's island fortress with other fighters for a martial-arts tournament.
Votes: 99,443 | Gross: $25.00M
11. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
R | 83 min | Horror
Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather's grave in Texas fall victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths.
Votes: 142,846 | Gross: $30.86M
12. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
R | 107 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
Eddy persuades his three pals to pool money for a vital poker game against a powerful local mobster, Hatchet Harry. Eddy loses, after which Harry gives him a week to pay back 500,000 pounds.
Votes: 549,017 | Gross: $3.90M
13. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
R | 100 min | Drama
A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.
Votes: 52,007 | Gross: $24.74M
14. Fruitvale Station (2013)
R | 85 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.
Votes: 77,739 | Gross: $16.10M
15. Saw (2004)
R | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there, and soon discover they're pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.
Votes: 391,644 | Gross: $56.00M
16. Hoop Dreams (1994)
PG-13 | 170 min | Documentary, Drama, Sport
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.
Votes: 25,074 | Gross: $7.83M
17. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
PG | 91 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles.
Votes: 512,007 | Gross: $1.23M
18. Monsters (2010)
R | 94 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion, a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the U.S. border.
Votes: 89,557 | Gross: $0.24M
19. Brick (2005)
R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Votes: 102,773 | Gross: $2.06M
20. The Evil Dead (1981)
NC-17 | 85 min | Horror
Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
Votes: 192,094 | Gross: $2.40M
21. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
When a simple jewelry heist goes horribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
Votes: 945,303 | Gross: $2.83M
22. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
R | 100 min | Comedy, Musical
A newly-engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must seek shelter at the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-n-Furter.
Votes: 136,262 | Gross: $139.88M
23. Ringu (1998)
Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Mystery
A reporter and her ex-husband investigate a cursed video tape that is rumored to kill the viewer seven days after watching it.
Director: Hideo Nakata
Budget: $1,200,000 (¥121,737,258)
Box Office: 10,000,000+ (¥1 billion+) Japan box office
Profit %: 733%
* launched Ring film franchise
24. Billy Jack (1971)
GP | 114 min | Action, Drama, Western
Ex-Green Beret hapkido expert saves wild horses from being slaughtered for dog food and helps protect a desert "freedom school" for runaway.
Votes: 5,703 | Gross: $98.00M
Writer-Director-Producer: Tom Laughlin
Box Office: $32,500,000
Profit %: 3963%
* part a series wildly successful low budget Billy Jack films
25. Fireproof (2008)
PG | 122 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance
In an attempt to save his marriage, a firefighter uses a 40-day experiment known as "The Love Dare."
Votes: 21,843 | Gross: $33.46M
26. Walking Tall (1973)
R | 125 min | Action, Biography, Crime
Based on the life of Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser whom almost single-handily cleaned up his small town of crime and corruption, but at a personal cost of his family life and nearly his own life.
Votes: 5,444 | Gross: $4.75M
Director: Phil Karlson
Box Office: $23,000,000
Profit %: 4500%
* launched Walking Tall film franchise
27. Fritz the Cat (1972)
TV-MA | 78 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama
A hypocritical swinging college student cat raises hell in a satiric vision of various elements on the 1960s.
Votes: 11,876 | Gross: $25.00M
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Box Office: $90,000,000
Profit %: 12,757%
*added 10 June 2021
28. Insidious (I) (2010)
PG-13 | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.
Votes: 287,412 | Gross: $54.01M
29. Wolf Creek (2005)
R | 99 min | Horror, Thriller
Three backpackers stranded in the Australian outback are plunged inside a hellish nightmare of insufferable torture by a sadistic psychopathic local.
Votes: 69,252 | Gross: $16.19M
Writer-Director-Producer: Greg McLean
Budget: $1,400,000 AUD
Box Office: $35,000,000 AUD
Profit %: 2,400%
*added 10 June 2021
30. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
PG | 96 min | Documentary, News
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.
Votes: 81,218 | Gross: $23.81M
31. Unfriended (2014)
R | 83 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.
Votes: 71,132 | Gross: $32.48M