10 Low-Budget Movies That Grossed Millions

The film industry collects colossal amounts of money, and every year various productions compete to take a good slice of the pie. Movies are being released all the time with gigantic budgets that guarantee a good return on investment. However, occasionally projects appear with meagre budgets that end up grossing real fortunes at the box office.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The producers were skeptical when they learned the plot of this sensational film. The truth is that none of them dared to risk money to produce the film and Kirk Douglas, who owns the rights to the story, ended up selling it to his own son, Michael. Subsequently, Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas himself produced the story on a budget of $4,400,000.

A risky but profitable gamble, as the film ended up grossing US$163,250,000 at the box office.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

A Nightmare on Elm Street.

With an initial budget of $1,800,000, this 1984 film, produced by Robert Shaye, ended up grossing a whopping $57 million at the box office. The story starring the legendary Freddy Krueger was rejected by numerous production companies before New Line Cinema agreed to produce the film.

It was a risky gamble and, in fact, halfway through the film the company ran out of money. Cast and crew worked for several weeks without pay. Fortunately, the production company managed to find investors and bring its first commercial success to fruition.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Dirty Dancing.

This movie proved to be a headache for those involved. It wasn’t enough for one company after another to reject the script, the budget was meagre and the star actors couldn’t even be seen. Dirty Dancing was created with such bad vibes that, once finished, the creators didn’t like the result.

But, against all expectations, this film, which started with a budget of US$5 million, ended up grossing US$214,600,000 at the box office and became a classic of cinema.

Dirty Dancing


The Saw franchise got off to an unexpected start. Beyond the fact that it was considered an independent film, there is the fact that most of the actors were unknown. The filming of the film took just under three weeks and the only stage they built is the bathroom. With an initial budget of US$1,200,000, this film managed to gross over US$103 million at the box office.


The Night of the Devil (Insidious).

Insidious is another film from the creators of the Saw franchise. And the recipe worked again, because with a low-budget film (US$1,500,000) finished in three weeks, they multiplied the investment by 66. They grossed nearly $100 million at the box office.



Sylvester Stallone himself was in charge of writing the script for this film, and he assures that it took him no more than four days. As there was little money to invest in the filming, some of the actor’s relatives got involved to carry out minor roles. Stallone’s father rang the ring bell and his brother played a singer in the film.

With an initial budget of US$960,000, this classic film grossed approximately US$225,000,000 at the box office.


The Terminator)

While going through an illness, director James Cameron had a strange nightmare that inspired the character who stars in The Terminator. However, after writing the script, he was unable to find producers interested in financing the story. Cameron practically gave away the script on the condition that he be allowed to direct the film.

Arnold Schwarzenegger himself went so far as to confess that he had no hope whatsoever in the success of this film and, fortunately, they were all wrong. This 1984 classic had an initial budget of $6,400,000 and grossed more than $78 million at the box office.

The Terminator


Sources say the 2016 film had a budget of more than $4 million. However, the director assures that this amount did not even exceed US$1,500,000. The three actors who played Chiron, the main character, didn’t even meet on set and filming lasted just 25 days. In the end, the film received critical acclaim and grossed over $65 million at the box office.


Pulp Fiction.

The film opened with a much lower budget, but Bruce Willis’ collaboration in the cast helped bring that figure to $8 million. Of that total, $5 million went to pay the actors’ fees and only $3 million was invested in filming. Fortunately, this legendary 1994 film grossed nearly $214 million at the box office.

Pulp Fiction

Moments of a Lifetime (Boyhood)

It took 12 long years to finish this film. Each year, the director would rewrite the script and the actors would base their roles on real-life examples. The whole crew met once or twice a year to film, and these shoots lasted no more than 4 days. Despite the enormous risk, the producers continued to finance the film and this led to interesting results.

With a total budget of $4 million, Boyhood’s release in 2014 grossed $57,300,000 at the box office.



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