10 Of The Best Low-Budget Movies Of All Time (And How Much They Cost)

Movie fans can always tell when a movie has a huge budget, but sometimes, low-budget movies are so well-done we would never imagine they cost so much less than their peers. That’s exactly the case for these 10 movies below.

RELATED: 15 Low Budget Movies That Became Huge Hits

The success of a movie is not necessarily connected to how much it cost. Although money can always help add production value, it’s a good idea and a talented cast and crew that can really make a difference in the final result of a cinematic piece. As proven by this list with the top 10 best low-budget movies, ranked.

10 Little Miss Sunshine (Budget: $8 Million)

Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 dramedy road movie that became one of the biggest sales in history when Fox Searchlight Pictures purchased its rights after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The movie cost $8 million to make, and it became a huge box office success, earning $101 million. It was nominated and won several awards, including the Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. The movie was very well-accepted by critics and the public, and it was even deemed “Movie of the Year” by the AFI Awards.

9 The Blair Witch Project (Budget: Under $800,000)

Heather Donahue in "The Blair Witch Project."

The Blair Witch Project is terrifying to the audience but a pleasant delight to the filmmakers who did it. The 1999 independent horror movie was cheap to shoot, and it made a ton of money. The movie grossed $248.6 million worldwide after costing less than $800,000 to make. Though there’s some controversy regarding the final budget, which varies from 200 to 750 thousand depending on the source, it’s undeniable that the profit was remarkable.

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The supernatural hit had a clever idea and explored a bold marketing strategy that left the audience aghast. It became a pop culture sensation and launched a media franchise with more movies, books, and games.

8 Super Size Me (Budget: $65,000)

In 2004, independent documentarist Morgan Spurlock decided to take on a controversial experiment and film it. The result became the movie Super Size Me, in which Spurlock spends a whole month only feeding on McDonald’s food to see the effects the high-calorie mega-chain meals would have on him, both physically and psychologically.

The movie cost $65,000 to make, and it earned $22.2 million at the box-office. At the time, the documentary generated a big impact, and it raised a lot of questions about the veracity of Spurlock’s calorie intake. The movie intended to raise awareness of the growth of obesity in the United States, and it made McDonald’s discontinue Super Size meals in its menu. The overall critic and public reception were good, and the movie is considered a big success.

7 Monty Python And The Holy Grail (Budget: $380,000)

Monty Python And The Holy Grail is a 1975 British parody of King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail. It is constantly featured in best comedy lists in the US and around the world, but the movie’s reputation actually improved with time. The reviews were mixed at the time of its release, though the audience found the movie hilarious and contributed to its $5 million box office haul.

The movie cost around $380,000 pitched in by multiple investors, and it won America’s heart after the comedy group’s first feature And Now For Something Completely Different, failed to do so. Many people consider this movie a cult classic, and if you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.

6 Eraserhead (Budget: $10,000)

David Lynch’s feature debut, Eraserhead is a 1977 experimental horror masterpiece. The movie became a commercial success, grossing over $7 million at the box-offices, after only 25 people attended its premiere at the Filmex Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Following the shy opening, the movie had a year-long midnight run in San Franciso, 2-year run in New York, and stayed in theaters for 3 years straight in Los Angeles, between 1978 and 1981. Upon its release, the movie encountered a mix of positive and negative reviews, but in 2004, it was deemed culturally significant enough to be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress. Eraserhead only cost $10,000 to make.

5 Lost In Translation (Budget: $4 Million)

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen in Lost in Translation

Sofia Coppola’s romantic dramedy Lost in Translation was released in 2003, it made $118.7 million, while its production cost was $4 million. This beautiful movie is considered a critical and commercial success.

Critics praised Sofia Coppola and the stars Scarlet Johansson and Bill Murray, and the movie went on to win several awards, including one Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, three Golden Globes, and three British Academy Awards. It took Sofia Coppola 27 days to shoot this profitable cinematic wonder.

4 Mad Max (Budget: $400,00 AUD)

The first movie in the Australian Mad Max franchise was released in 1979, and it polarized critics across the globe. Severely criticized by many, including the author Stephen King, the post-apocalyptical quickly found its way into the public’s grace, making over 100 million US dollars worldwide, after costing 400,000 Australian dollars to make.

RELATED: 10 Sci-Fi Movies With Surprisingly Low Budgets, Ranked By Cost

The action-thriller was Australian director George Miller’s debut, and he followed up to direct three sequels, including the 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road. For a long time, the movie held the Guinness Record for the most profitable movie.

3 Get Out (Budget: $4.5 Million)

The horror movie Get Out is comedian Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, and what a debut. The movie is critically acclaimed, and its approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes is 98%.

Released in 2017, and starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Bradley Whitford, the movie was nominated for several awards and gave Peele his first Academy Award, for Best Original Screenplay. The movie had a $4.5 million production budget, and $124.8 million was its net profit.

2 Rocky (Budget: $1 Million)

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

Rocky is a sports drama classic that touches the audience’s heart like no other. Released in 1976, written and starring Sylvester Stallone, the movie follows the journey of a kind-hearted, working-class boxer working as a debt collector.

The movie was a sleeper hit; its success started slow but soon paced up to make $225 million, after costing a little over $1 million to make. Rocky was critically acclaimed and held the post as the highest-grossing movie of 1976 and second-highest of 1977, after Star Wars. This classic received 10 Academy Awards nominations and ended up receiving three, including Best Picture.

1 Moonlight (Budget: $4 Million)

Moonlight (2016) by Barry Jenkins

Moonlight is the 2017 Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Featuring an entirely African-American cast, this LGBT coming-of-age drama was based on the unpublished semi-autobiographical book by Tarell Calvin McCraney.

The movie is groundbreaking in its approach to toxic masculinity and sexuality, and it was critically and commercially acclaimed. Moonlight’s production budget was only $4 million, and it grossed more than $65 million worldwide.

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Updated: November 21, 2020 — 3:00 am

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