When a new Spider-Man, Transformers, Hunger Games or other popular franchise is getting worked on, most times the budget runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The studios do not mind because they know that these movies will make a ton of cash when they are released. Well we are not looking at these movies today. We are looking at the small budget movies, that despite their lack of money managed to capture people’s attention and make a huge impact in the world of film.
Mad Max (1979)
It’s hard to think of Mad Max as a low budget movie as these days it’s a huge franchise that actually is just about to be rebooted with a big budget remake. But the original movie that was released all the way back in 1979 had a budget of $200,000 and starred a relatively unknown actor called Mel Gibson, I am sure you have heard of him. 😀 The movie was a huge hit all over the world and pulled in around $100,000,000 and it would also set the bench mark for what a post-apocalyptic world should look like.
Paranormal Activity (2009)
Paranormal Activity is now one of the premier horror franchises. It has spawned numerous sequels and has a huge following all over the world. This first movie in the series was made using the found footage formula. This movie cost around $15,000 that is not a typo by the way! As of writing the movie made an estimated $190,000,000 and this is not even counting the sequels. This movie that was made for less than the price of a house is now a multi-million dollar franchise.
The movie that gave us Jay & Silent Bob. Kevin Smith is something of a hero to indie film fans all over the world. The movie was extremely low budget with Kevin Smith having to sell off his comic book collecting and some people even say use credit cards to finance the movie. Heck he even had to use the convenient store he worked at to shoot the movie! All this resulted in the movie costing him $27,000 to make, Clerks would make just under 4 million dollars and also launch the career of Kevin Smith.
Blair Witch Project (1999)
Movies like Paranormal Activity owe a great deal to The Blair Witch Project. While this was not the first found footage movie to be made, it was the first that just blew up all over the world. The modest $22,500 budget saw a return of $248,300,000. An interesting thing about this movie is that the film makers also did a great job of using the internet to promote the movie rather than spending a ton of money on traditional TV and print advertising. While internet marketing for a movie is a common thing these days, back in 1999 this was one of the first movies to really embrace viral online marketing.
American Graffiti (1973)
Before George Lucas was making billions of dollars by taking us to a Galaxy, Far, Far Away, he made this coming of age movie. It is said it’s based on his own teenage years and he made the movie for $777,000 which is not chump change, but when you consider the movie made a phenomenal $140,000,000 and helped, Mr. Lucas be able to fund his Star Wars movie, then it’s well worth a place on our list.