15 low budget films with highest gross

Pulling everything available to carry out a film sometimes becomes an unexpected blockbuster and instantly the director is catapult. In some cases the success owes much to the skill advertising and is not uncommon for a company to acquire a film with potential and finish more millions being spent on promoting than you have invested with the director and his crew.

The percentage returns here assume that it don’t include DVD, TV and merchandising earnings, so the numbers are likely to be considerably higher by some way. Any documentary or pornographic films are not included because that might have made the cut with an unfair advantage; by movies I mean good old fashioned fictional entertainment.

The most expensive of this 15 most profitable movies of all time had a budget of a piddling $400.000, and in Hollywood that’s less than could be the budget for anabolic sandwiches Dwayne Johnson eats during a shoot.


Clerks (1994)
Budget: $27.000
Gross Worldwide: $3.894.240

Kevin Smith sold part of his collection of comics, savings of his studies and the money that a car insurance gave him. Requested permission at the store where he worked for use as a stage but granted it mean: just let him roll when the store were closed. He persuaded friends and family to stand in front of the camera and filmed the purgatory of a dependent who burned the hours discussing whether the inhabitants of the Death Star busting inThe Return of the Jedi were innocent freelancers. That story of twentysomethings no future outspoken connected with the audience and walked Cannes, Sundance and Independent Spirit Awards to rake in an incredible $3,894,240 worldwide gross, for a percentage return of over 7,000%. He became a cult film, generated a sequel in 2006, an animated series and a third is in preparation.


Eraserhead (1977)
Budget: $20.000
Gross Worldwide: $7.000.000

David Lynch warmed the American Film Institute chairs when decided become Buñuel to get a first and unusual film. Eraserhead was funded by eventual economic collaboration of friends and family, Terrence Mallick would show the film to a potential investor and get a response of ” this sucks ” by the gentleman in question . The shooting had minimal equipment, special effects tricks a bit disturbing (that baby mutant) and a shoot that would last for more than five years leaving sequels in the film itself : Jack Nance suddenly aged 18 months in a scene. Although commercially projecting that in a movie theater seemed the equivalent to bombard the audience with a pepper spray gun and magazines like Variety considered it “a nice heave”, the film participated in the festival Filmex and eventually found its place in midnight screenings and select theaters . The “word to mouth” spread and the film grossed a total of seven million; Lynch and their worlds came to the big screen to twist ass.


Easy rider (1969)
Budget: $400.000 
Gross Worldwide: $60.000.000 

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper agreed to create a western with motorcycles that roamed the American asphalt and because the protagonists inspirations shared those names with Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp. Easy Rider was filmed Hopper own orders and rafting without a script profiling, winging , hiring local hippies as technical team and director messing around from the beginning. Fonda and Hopper spent filming emptying bottles and smoking marijuana (which consume in the film has little props) and even Jack Nicholson appeared on the screen slightly injured by the fumes. The premiere was tremendous, a society disillusioned with the government made that will raise $41 million in USA making it one of the highest grossing films of the year and a neon sign that warned Hollywood of the arrival of a new kind of cinema away from the straitjacket . That wonderful ’70s .


The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Budget: $60.000
Gross Worldwide: $248,639,099

Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick took three actors, they gave them a camera and started screw them hidden. They grabbed the 20 hours of footage filmed in just eight days and edited a half hour film that took eight months. The goal was to reach the fear resources, the result was a crazy jogging through the forest with a few curious moments, a camera disco suffering a seizure on a roller coaster and a legion of fans. Drawing on the narrative technique of found footage is tried to sell the work as fact but people had Internet on one side, and on the other they were healed of those terrors since long ago they made ​​everyone believe that Cannibal Holocaust was a documentary gastronomy. The crazy thing is that the distributor melted 25 million in advertising (including the groundbreaking viral marketing and online buzz) and as a result raised about $ 248,639,099, the percentage return stacked up to be more than 20,000%.


Mariachi (1992)
Budget: $7.000
Gross Worldwide: $2,041,928

Robert Rodriguez debut, who decided to make some money by becoming a guinea pig testing experimental drugs . The mariachi used a wheelchair for movement of the only film camera, simulating bullet impact with condoms filled with red liquid, the actors were the crew and his obsession with saving even mean leaving the clapperboard. When the tape was ready, Rodriguez tried to sell the video market without success until it was Columbia Pictures that bought the work, spent more money on promotion and converting from 16mm to 35mm than the cost of the film.


Paranormal activity (2007)
Budget: $15.000
Gross Worldwide: $193,355,800

With just $15,000, the visionaries behind this project created a movie that took in a worldwide gross of almost $197 million, a staggering percentage return of over 655,000%. The tense, terrifying movie originally opened in just 13 college towns, with a viral online media campaign encouraging people to vote for the film to be shown in their area. Presented as “found footage” with most of the lines improvised by the cast, the movie has a disturbing realism that only adds to the creeping feeling of horror. The writer and director, Oren Peli is currently engaged in filming Area 51. Pretty sure he doesn’t feel any pressure…


Halloween (1978)
Budget: $325.000
Gross Worldwide: $47.000.000

It was 1978, the year when one of the legends of the horror genre was released into the world. Michael Myers was arguably the foundational figure in the canon of “slasher” icons of Hollywood, but the movie received mixed reviews when first launched, with some critics arguing that his character was far too one-dimensional. Nevertheless, in proof that character depth is not necessarily the key to success, cinema-goers loved the film. Halloween grossed $70m from a modest budget of $325,000, providing a return of almost 11,000% and leaving in its wake a tradition of over-the-top gore that survives to this day.


Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Budget: $114.000 
Gross Worldwide: $30.000.000 

George A. Romero is considered the father of the zombie legacy, not be the first but by planting the main basis. Stealing the idea of the novel “I Am Legend”, Romero devised the economic monster: the undead homemade FX using chocolate tablespoon replacing the blood (the film was shot in black and white). A previous pass terrified audiences dramatically, critics considered it an orgy of horrific violence, a reaction to the Cold War and were attributed all the evils in the world. In the meantime the box office were busting: the Wall Street Journal announced that night was the more grossing movie in Europe 1969, notching up a return of over 13,000%.


Pi (1998)
Budget: $60.000
Gross Worldwide: $3,221,152

Darren Aronofsky borrowed $60,000 from family and friends in packs of 100 bills per head with a promise to repay 150 each if getting benefits with accelerated flat thriller that orbited the obsession of a mathematician by the number Pi. Getting the cult almost instantly, Pi raised three million in the U.S. alone, it became a constant selling DVD and launched the career of Aronofsky directing that person to end things as remarkable as Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler or Black swan.


Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Budget: $400.000
Gross Worldwide: $46,118,097

This surreal coming-of-age comedy quickly gained a cult following, and deservedly so! It would be difficult to find a more painfully awkward character than the perpetually out of place fantasist Napoleon Dynamite. His teenage troubles struck a chord with the awkward fifteen-year-old inside us all, and the movie took a worldwide gross of over $46 million, giving it a healthy 5,667% return on its budget of $400,000. Director Jared Hess’ next project, Nacho Libre, didn’t do quite so well (and perhaps was never likely to with its somewhat larger budget of $32 million), taking in a merely respectable $99 million worldwide – but was panned by critics.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Budget: $83,532
Gross Worldwide: $30,859,000

Directed by Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre arrived in theaters in 1974, the year that Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency. The rumour says that was actually funded with money earned from 1972’s surprise blockbuster Deep Throat (which gross around the 600 million dollar mark, and coincidentally enough, happened to supply a nickname for the source that helped bring down Nixon’s presidency), Texas Chainsaw is unimaginable without its crude, low-budget forebears. Political and historical context is relevant (Vietnam, the Manson Murders, hippie culture, etc.), but not as crucial to the production and box-office success of Texas Chainsaw as the established popularity of underground films


Mad Max (1981)
Budget: $375,000
Gross Worldwide: $8,750,000

Australian films don’t come around often, but when they do they’re often good. Mad Max, the futuristic, dystopian motorbike action movie, brought in $99.75 million worldwide, with the revenue lost due to the fact that it was banned in Sweden and New Zealand possibly compensated for elsewhere by the notoriety such a measure generated. The budget was a mere $375,000, giving a percentage return of almost 25,000%, and leading the way for the penetration of Australian new wave cinema into the wider worldfilm market.


Once (2006)
Budget: $150,000
Gross Worldwide: $20,710,513

Once, an Irish indie movie, was shot for only $150,000 after a low-level executive gave it the green light on the condition that it could stick to the small budget. The gamble paid off, with the movie receiving the 2008 Independent Spirit Award for best foreign film, an Oscar for Best Original Song and two Grammy nominations for its soundtrack. And the movie wasn’t just a critics’ darling; the mix of street music and star-crossed love was a hit with the public as well. Once made a worldwide gross of almost $19 million – that’s a percentage return of over 6,000%.


Evil Dead (1983)
Budget: $375,000
Gross Worldwide: $2,400,000

Because of its large promotional campaign, the film performed above expectations at the box office. It grossed a total of $2,400,000 worldwide, nearly eight times its production budget. The initial domestic gross was described as “disappointing”. It opened in 15 theaters and grossed $108,000 in its opening weekend. Word of mouth later spread, and the film became a “sleeper hit”, making over $600,000 domestically and nearly $2,000,000 overseas. In its first week of release, the film made £100,000 in the U.K., and quickly became that week’s best-selling video release. It became the best-selling video in the country that year, out-grossing large-budget horror releases such as The Shining.

The film’s release was met with controversy. Raimi made the film as gruesome as possible with neither interest in nor fear of censorship, which led to the film’s receiving an X rating and being named a “video nasty”. Films with this label were quite violent and disturbing, and the title was often held by pornographic and other X-rated films. While The Evil Dead was not pornographic in nature, it was considered one of the most violent films of its time, and censors had issues with the film’s content, which impacted some of its commercial potential. The film was called the “number one nasty” in a nod to its status as both a nasty and the year’s best-selling video release.[43][53] Writer Bruce Kawin described The Evil Dead as one of the most notorious splatter films of its day, along with Cannibal Holocaust and I Spit on Your Grave. The film was banned either theatrically or on video in some countries


Pink Flamingos (1974)
Budget: $10,000
Gross Worldwide: $1,250,000

Pink Flamingos was made on a ridiculously low budget of $10,000, and the cast is comprised almost entirely of friends of John Waters. As such, the acting is terrible, and overall there is very much a “home movie” presentation. This is amateur to the full degree, but I suppose that is partly what has helped give this a cult following. Not many people could make a trash film of this magnitude on that type of budget, but then again, there isn’t anyone like John Waters.

By and large, Pink Flamingos is a bad film. It piles on the trash and never lets up. The most infamous part, of course, is at the end of the movie, when Divine waits for a dog to move its bowels, then shoves the shit into her mouth. But an hour before, there are a few genuinely quality scenes — primarily when the 50s rockabilly tunes are featured prominently — but this lives and dies by its shock value. I suppose I am content with seeing this once just to remove my curiosity, but I cannot recommend doing the same for anyone else. Also: I will never hear Surfin’ Bird the same way again.