Some of Hollywood's Hit Films That Succeeded On A Tight Budget

May 21, 2021Danica

Hollywood seems like the land of dreams and opportunities, and to some extent, this is true. However, some of our favorite hit films did not have much of a ‘budget’ to work with. From the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding to Lost in Translation, these hit films were created under strenuous conditions ... It's almost impossible to believe what they were able to achieve with hardly any money at their disposal! 

Image Credits: YouTube/Focus Features | Lost in Translation - Focus Features

Why Producers Only Give Certain Films A Specific Amount

There are many different reasons why certain films are only given a specific budget: it might be a bit too experimental, they might not like the lead actors, and so on! We have to remember that as creative as the film industry is, it is still and will always be a business. Can you guess which films exceeded these producers’ expectations when they ranked on the top of the box office? 

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Image Credits: YouTube/Zimbio | Rocky - Chartoff-Winkler Productions

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

If you like the classic ‘rom-com,’ you have probably seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This film is one of the most unique films ever made using a minimal budget, but Nia Vardalos did her storyline justice when the film ended up as a blockbuster. So, how much was this film’s budget, and how much did it gross?

Image Credits: YouTube/Insider | My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Gold Circle Films

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

From a financial standpoint, 5,000,000 USD does seem like a lot of money but viewing this from Hollywood’s perspective, this is somewhat the bare minimum. However, Nia Vardalos and My Big Fat Greek Wedding broke barriers when their film grossed a total of 250,000,000 USD! It is safe to say that these producers have listened to this fantastic screenwriter’s ideas since then.

Image Credits: YouTube/Fandango | My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Gold Circle Films

Napoleon Dynamite

When you hear Napoleon Dynamite, the hit film instantly goes through your mind because it is one of the most hilarious yet awkward films that have ever graced the silver screen. Although did you know that Jason Heder, who was the lead role, only got 1,000 USD as his salary? That was how low this film’s budget was—however, did he get more than that once the Napoleon Dynamite skyrocketed?

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Napoleon Dynamite - Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

You would think that 1,000 USD for a lead role was low because it is, but Jason Heder ultimately got more than that when Napoleon Dynamite hit 45,000,000 USD in the box office! This film was initially released at Sundance Film Festival, but it has since made its way into countless cinemas all over the world. Now, this next one is a bit more of a fantasy film...

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Napoleon Dynamite - Fox Searchlight Pictures

28 Days Later

The film 28 Days Later was not your ordinary zombie movie, unlike Zombieland or Night of the Living Dead. 28 Days Later boasted not only of an incredible plot but with its actors’ incredibly excellent acting skills as well. Who would have thought that Cillian Murphy would agree to play a role in a zombie movie, right?

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | 28 Days Later - DNA Films

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

During its pre-production, 28 Days Later only had 6,600,000 USD in the budget, and it was made in London, United Kingdom. However, most of its viewers were absolutely smitten by this film, and so it reached an astounding 80,000,000 USD in profit which was pretty good gross earnings considering that it was a zombie movie. This film, and this next one, proves that people love a good scare!

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | 28 Days Later - DNA Films

Friday the 13th

Almost every scary season, most thrill-seekers out there watch Friday the 13th because of its legacy when it comes to the horror genre. Plus, who does not love seeing a bit of scary scenes on our screens, right? However, did you know that the filmmakers behind this quintessential Halloween film only had less than 600,000 USD to play around with?

Image Credits: YouTube/AceShowbiz | Friday the 13th - Paramount Pictures

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Honestly, who would have thought that Friday the 13th would only have a budget of 600,000 USD? Well, it is safe to say that people loved this film because it reached about 60,000,000 USD at the box office, and it had also paved the way for more thriller films to be produced. Now, speaking of thriller films, this next one is a relatively new yet successful one...

Image Credits: YouTube/Stark Insider | Friday the 13th - Paramount Pictures

The Purge

A film where you can do mostly illegal stuff for 24 hours without getting caught or imprisoned? Most producers from Hollywood thought that this was an ultimately crazy idea, so they gave the creators of The Purge a limited budget of 3,000,000 USD. However, what they were not expecting was that people would bite into this storyline!

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | The Purge - Blumhouse Productions

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

From a mere 3,000,000 USD, The Purge had gone on to become a multi-million-dollar franchise, and it had also become a cult classic. Each film from the franchise has its own theme and storyline, and so every time they would drop a new one, the fans would instantly head to the cinemas to see what this new one was all about. This next one had a limited budget but ended up winning a coveted Academy Award...

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | The Purge - Blumhouse Productions

Moonlight

One of the more unique and artistic films on this list that also has a relatively low budget is none other than Moonlight. This film talks about the emotional development of a young man, and we can see in the entirety of the film how he grapples with his different realities; if you have not seen it yet, you should do yourselves a favor and watch it today! Well, the Acadamy Award thinks so, too, because Moonlight won a significant award.

Image Credits: YouTube/LensCulture | Moonlight - A24

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Moonlight earned one of the major awards from the Oscars since it bagged Best Picture in 2017! This was such a great win considering that the filmmakers behind Moonlight only had 4,000,000 USD to work with and ended up grossing about 65,000,000 USD! It goes to show that people can still appreciate a great work of art when they see one!

Image Credits: YouTube/The Herald | Moonlight - A24

The Big Sick

Again, if rom-coms are your jam, then you have probably seen The Big Sick. Since this film talks about the love and romance of two people from different ethnic backgrounds, its producers were a bit antsy when it comes to producing it globally. So they gave the minds behind The Big Sick about 5,000,000 USD to get their vision across—although they did more than that...

Image Credits: YouTube/The Hollywood Reporter | The Big Sick - FilmNation Entertainment

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

A few films on this list had 5,000,000 USD on their budget when they started their movies, but The Big Sick did gross an astounding 55,000,000 USD in the box office, and it also has an approval score of nearly 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. How ridiculously awesome was that? Well, this next one might not be a rom-com, but it is equally as good!

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | The Big Sick - FilmNation Entertainment

Mad Max

Who can say no to Mel Gibson’s incredible talent and charisma, right? Well, producers can since they only gave Mad Max a whopping 300,000 USD budget! However, this film had such a significant impact in the film industry, and it even landed a spot in the Guinness Book of World Record—any guesses for which world record?

Image Credits: YouTube/Looper | Mad Max - Kennedy Miller Productions

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Mad Max had about 300,000 USD in the budget, but it ended up grossing a whirlwind 100,000,000 USD in the box office. Because of this impressive feat, it landed up in the Guinness Book of World Records for Best Ratio of Profit to Budget. Honestly, the next time you say “no” to Mel Gibson, then you might have to rethink your judgment.

Image Credits: YouTube/Looper | Mad Max - Kennedy Miller Productions

Night of the Living Dead

When you think of zombie movies, you instantly think of Night of the Living Dead since this was the film that basically started the genre! From the original budget of 115,000 USD that George Romero was given, this film had made such a resounding voice in the thriller genre, and people loved it all the more. So, how much did Night of the Living Dead achieve in gross earnings?

Image Credits: YouTube/The New York Times | Night of the Living Dead - Image Ten

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Night of the Living Dead ended up receiving about 20,000,000 USD in the international box office, and needless to say, but George Romero was pleased! This was the start of a cult classic, so it ended up being one of the most loved zombie movies in Hollywood. Well, speaking of scary movies, this next one is another classic that ended up having quite a few sequels…

Image Credits: YouTube/Mental Floss | Night of the Living Dead - Image Ten

Halloween

We might know Jamie Lee Curtis from her roles in Freaky Friday and Trading Places, but did you know that she starred in a hit thriller when she was a bit younger? Her role in Halloween was a pivotal stage in her life, and this led to her reprising her role a few more times since it had a few sequels too! However, did you know that Halloween only had about 300,000 USD in the budget?

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Halloween - Compass International Pictures

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

From 300,000 USD, Halloween managed to perform well in the box office to reach an astounding 600,000,000 USD in gross earnings. This film had been the beginning of a life-long career for Jamie Lee Curtis, and we somehow watched her grow up on the screen. This next one is a film made by the legendary Star Wars director, George Lucas.

Image Credits: YouTube/Fanpop | Halloween - Compass International Pictures

American Graffiti

Before he was known globally as the mastermind behind one of the world’s most beloved movie franchises, George Lucas released his second film called American Graffiti. Since he was not that established at that time, he was only given around 750,000 USD in the budget. Although his masterpiece ended up becoming a classic and it also performed well in the blockbuster!

Image Credits: YouTube/CBS News | American Graffiti - Lucasfilm

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

American Graffiti had a budget of 750,000 USD, but it ended up making 110,000,000 USD in the box office! This was such a massive feat for George Lucas since it was around this time that he was developing his ‘space opera,’ which would turn out to be one of the most loved movie franchises of all time. So his producers should have given him more seed money, right?

Image Credits: YouTube/CBS News | American Graffiti - Lucasfilm

Star Wars

After George Lucas’ massive success from American Graffiti, you would think that he would be given more seed money for Star Wars, right? Well, the answer was no since he was only given about 11,000,000 USD to start this ‘space opera’ that he had been envisioning in his head. Well, you really cannot blame producers since who in their right minds would want to create a film dedicated to space and opera?

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Star Wars - Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

This brainchild by George Lucas ended up becoming what we know today as Star Wars, and during its release, it grossed an incredible 775,000,000 USD! As we all know, Star Wars has gathered a cult following all around the world, and people even celebrate the 4th of May as Star Wars Day due to the famous line, “May the force be with you.” Well, this next film is another one that audiences of all ages have greatly loved...

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Star Wars - Lucasfilm Ltd.

Little Miss Sunshine

Who can forget Abigail Breslin’s breakthrough role in Little Miss Sunshine? Her little personality really shone through as Olive Hoover in this family-friendly film, and it is one of those films that you can watch at any age and still love. Although did you know that their budget was a bit limited, just like most films on this list?

Image Credits: YouTube/FilmAffinity | Little Miss Sunshine - Big Beach Films

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

For the film Little Miss Sunshine, its creators only got about 8,000,000 USD but eventually grossed in over 100,000,000 USD! This was a spectacular feat, and although Abigail Breslin might have no idea what the financial situation was like, this definitely catapulted her career. Now, this next one is has a bit of a horror touch to it.

Image Credits: YouTube/iNews | Little Miss Sunshine - Big Beach Films

The Blair Witch Project

This homemade-like film had a budget of 60,000 USD, but it did have a terrific campaign before it even hit the cinemas. Surprisingly, people actually wanted to see a bunch of teenagers get lost in the woods while being chased by a haunting entity. Yes, this was basically what happened, since The Blair Witch Project did gross a massive amount of money, and it got this next one too...

Image Credits: YouTube/E! Online | The Blair Witch Project - Haxan Films

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

The Blair Witch Project earned an extraordinary 250,000,000 USD internationally, and it even had a bunch of remakes and some films patterned to it like Paranormal Activity. It goes to show that a little bit of spookiness is admired by people all over the world, right? Well, what about this next one on our list?

Image Credits: YouTube/E! Online | The Blair Witch Project - Haxan Films

Get Out

If you have not seen the film, Get Out, you have to get out of here (pun intended). This is a spectacularly eerie film made by Jordan Peele, and it was also his directorial debut, so maybe that also weighed in the fact that he only got 4,500,000 USD to make it. The film starred none other than Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, and it hit a groundbreaking success when it hit theatres!

Image Credits: YouTube/NME | Get Out - Blumhouse Productions

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Get Out had such a fantastic run in the cinemas, and it even grossed an astounding 220,000,000 USD! This was also the film that catapulted Jordan Peele into directorial greatness, which he deserved since Get Out was such a masterpiece. You definitely need to do yourselves a favor and watch this film if you have not yet seen it.

Image Credits: YouTube/Horror Homeroom | Get Out - Blumhouse Productions

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Another cult favorite is none other than A Nightmare on Elm Street. This was definitely one of the best horror films that had ever been made, hands down. Although did you know that A Nightmare on Elm Street only had about 1,500,000 USD in the budget when they were making it?

Image Credits: YouTube/Eye For Film | A Nightmare on Elm Street - New Line Cinema

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Even though their budget was relatively small compared to other Hollywood horror films, Wes Craven’s masterpiece reached a 25,000,000 USD gross earnings in the box office. It is safe to say that A Nightmare on Elm Street was something that people loved and continually loved even after its scary façade. Now, what about this next one?

Image Credits: YouTube/Eye For Film | A Nightmare on Elm Street - New Line Cinema

Goldfinger

When you hear the name Sean Connery, then you instantly associate him with James Bond and its iconic films, right? Well, that is somewhat true, but did you know that one of the films where he plays the amazing Agent 007 only had a 3,000,000 USD budget? However, this did not stop Sean Connery from giving it his best shot, and it ended up grossing more than that!

Image Credits: YouTube/CBS News | Goldfinger - Eon Productions

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

From only 3,000,000 USD to 126,000,000 USD in gross earnings, it is safe to say that people loved the tales of super-agents and super spies. Goldfinger also paved the way for more James Bond films to be produced in the future. Well, this next one is another cult classic that surprisingly had a relatively low budget.

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Goldfinger - Eon Productions

Pulp Fiction

Another cult classic that surprisingly had a relatively low budget is none other than Pulp Fiction. This quintessential Quentin Tarantino film was made with an 8,000,000 USD budget, but it did break the ceiling when it comes to the box office. Maybe it was the star-studded cast, or perhaps it was this next one...

Image Credits: YouTube/SCMP | Pulp Fiction - A Band Apart

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Whoever thought that it was acceptable to give Quentin Tarantino a limited budget did not realize that Pulp Fiction would end up having 7 Oscar nominations and one win for Best Original Screenplay. This was one of Quentin Tarantino’s directorial masterpieces, and many fans love it all around the world. Well, what about this next one?

Image Credits: YouTube/SCMP | Pulp Fiction - A Band Apart

Split

​​​​​​Split has a bit of a psychological feel to it since it is tackling a pretty sensitive topic: mental health. However, M. Night Shyamalan did this film justice with the help of James McAvoy’s outstanding acting skills even though they only had about 9,000,000 USD in budget. Also, it has a pretty high score on Rotten Tomato!

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Split - Blinding Edge Pictures

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Split earned about 270,000,000 USD in the box office, and it had become an instant hit from the moment it hit the cinema. James McAvoy did such a great job with this film, and M. Night Shyamalan (as always) did a great job too—no wonder Split was such a success! Plus, it has a fresh score of 77% on Rotten Tomato; how cool is that?

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Split - Blinding Edge Pictures

Rocky

If you have been to Philadelphia, then you will know how proud they are of their native Sylvester Stallone for his masterpiece, Rocky. This film showed what Sylvester Stallone was capable of even though his talents were somewhat doubted. He was only given 1,000,000 USD to create this film, and he knew that he had one shot at making his dreams come true.

Image Credits: YouTube/The Film Spectrum | Rocky - Chartoff-Winkler Productions

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

After showing the world what he was capable of, Rocky became an instant success all over the world, and people were raging on about Sylvester Stallone. This film grossed a total of 200,000,000 USD, and this was the beginning of a beautiful career for this breakthrough actor. Now, this next one on our list stars a bunch of amazing actors and was set in Japan—any guesses?

Image Credits: YouTube/Zimbio | Rocky - Chartoff-Winkler Productions

Lost in Translation

This film was one of Sofia Coppola’s best works, and it also won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Lost in Translation stars two of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors: Billy Murray and Scarlett Johansson. So if they knew that this film was in great hands, why would they give its creators just 4,000,000 USD?

Image Credits: YouTube/J0yboi | Lost in Translation - Focus Features

The Budget and The Gross Earnings

Maybe the producers thought that this film was a bit ‘experimental,’ even for Sofia Coppola. Although, the viewers and the critics did not think so since this is one of her most successful masterpieces, and it grossed about 120,000,000 USD. Well, it is safe to say that we cannot please everybody.

Image Credits: YouTube/Bounce Cinema | Lost in Translation - Focus Features

What Did You Think of These Movies?

Yes, we cannot please everybody, which might be what the creators of these films might have been thinking of when given such a limited budget. However, their talents and visions somehow prevailed since these films were also successes in their own rights. Now, maybe it is time to watch a movie of two from this list—what do you think?

Image Credits: YouTube/IMDb | Friday the 13th - Paramount Pictures

These films were created with such precision, talent, and passion, and we are so glad that the creators got the success they deserved. Which movie on this list is your favorite? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and share this article with your family and friends!

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