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12 Low-Budget Movies That Ended Up Becoming Blockbusters

At the beginning of a new cinematographic project, those involved are faced with a very important task for the realization of the work: raising enough resources for the work to become a worldwide success. However, certain films were shot on a low budget and still managed to become a phenomenon at the box office.

O awesome.club knows that even a small investment can be worth it when the project has good ideas and masterful performances. That’s why we decided to prepare a list of 12 films that fit this situation and won hearts in love with cinema.

1. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The feature, which marked the debut of Quentin Tarantino as a director, shows how, after an unsuccessful robbery attempt, the thieves begin to suspect the existence of a police informant among them. With an initial budget equivalent to less than R$ 160,000, Tarantino was already ready to start recording when he received a call from Harvey Keitel, who wanted to participate in the project. This increased the budget available to R$ 7.8 million. Worldwide, the box office yielded almost BRL 16 million. In view of this and with several awards received, Reservoir Dogs was able to establish itself as a hit in independent cinema, despite the low budget.

2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

This work was directed by some of the members of the British group of comedians Monty Python, recounting the adventures of an amusing king Arthur who, together with the knights of the Round Table, goes in search of the Holy Grail. In the search, they come across an obstacle more absurd than the other. Making Monty Python in Search of the Holy Grail cost only R$ 2 million, but its collection in theaters surpassed the R$ 26 million mark.

3. Eraserhead (1977)

The film narrates the life of Henry Spencer, who tries to survive the environment in which he is inserted, his furious girlfriend and the crying of his newborn son. The film’s production had a modest budget of just R$525,000. The limitations were so great that, when the production of the work lasted longer than expected, the director was forced to sleep, for a year, in the same space used as the protagonist’s bedroom. None of this, however, prevented Eraserhead, David Lynch’s first feature film, from being considered a “cult film”. So much so that the collection for the production exceeded R$ 36 million.

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4. Annabelle (2014)

The creators of this American horror film decided to make a spin-off of the feature The Conjuring. Thus, in Annabelle, we follow the story of a couple who are tormented by an entity in the form of an ancient porcelain doll.

Despite having the support of Invocation of Evil, the doll’s story was developed with a very low budget, with the equivalent of only R$ 34 million for its production. Thanks to the work and vision of those involved in the project, it was possible to multiply the investment with a box office that raised more than R$ 1.3 billion.

5. City of God (2002)

The low-budget action-drama film is based on a true story. Few people really believed in the possibility of the film being successful, including its two leads. They were given the option of receiving a single fee of around R$15,000 paid in advance or of keeping a percentage of the box office. Both preferred to take the advance payment without knowing that, if they had taken the other alternative, they would have pocketed approximately 25 times more than they received.

Despite this, City of God was able to win the hearts of spectators. Even though it was made with a relatively small budget of BRL 17 million, the feature film achieved surprising figures at the box office, surpassing BRL 168 million and winning rave reviews. As if that were not enough, the work was nominated in four Oscar categories, including best director.

6. American Psycho (2000)

The feature film of terror and sarcastic humor was well received in movie theaters worldwide, possibly thanks to the performance of famous actors like Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe and Jared Leto. Patrick Bateman’s story was brought to the big screen with a budget that was disproportionately low compared to the revenue obtained. Those responsible shot the film with the equivalent of R$ 37 million, but the box office yielded almost R$ 180 million. And a curiosity: the biggest single expense of American Psycho was with the purchase of the copyright of the songs used in the soundtrack.

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7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The musical, which features several appearances by Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon, quickly became a cult film. The Rocky Horror Picture Show shows a couple being forced to spend the night in an isolated mansion that serves as the stage for the meeting of very eccentric characters. Despite the modest budget equivalent to R$ 6.3 million, the feature film managed to raise more than R$ 10 million worldwide.

8. The King’s Speech (2010)

The historical drama deals with the support given to King George VI by his speech therapist during his unexpected accession to the British throne following his brother’s abdication. The King’s Speech was a huge commercial success and received positive reviews, as well as 12 Academy Award nominations. The production won in four categories, including best picture. In addition to the success of the production, the work proved to be a great investment, since, with a budget of almost R$ 80 million, the box office allowed a considerable collection of more than R$ 2.2 billion.

9. Friday the 13th (1980)

By showing the murders of teenagers working on the reopening of a summer camp, the film divided critics, receiving both positive and negative comments. The latter arose, above all, because of explicit violence. However, there is no denying that Friday the 13th left its own mark in the world of cinema, being a reference to this day when it comes to films in which groups of young people are chased by a masked man. And when we take into account the low budget, currently equivalent to around R$ 2.8 million, we can say the feature film was a huge success. This is because the box office allowed the collection of more than R$ 205 million in current values.

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10. Piranha (1978)

Starring Bradford Dillman, the 1978 horror film was described by its executive producer as an homage to Jaws (1975). With a budget equivalent to R$ 3.4 million and a collection of more than R$ 10 million in its first three weeks of exhibition, Piranha established itself as a great success.

11. Wanna Be John Malkovich (1999)

The low-budget independent feature film turned out to be a huge success, winning several film industry awards. This film marked the director’s and screenwriter’s debut. Being John Malkovich tells the story of a puppeteer who discovers a portal leading directly to the mind of the great actor John Malkovich.

A curious piece of information involving the production is that it cost, in total, the equivalent of R$ 68 million. But all the efforts were worth it, as the collection was on the verge of R$ 170 million.

12. Donnie Darko (2001)

This psychological thriller set in the late 1980s was critically acclaimed, much to the surprise of many. The plot tells about the life of Donnie, a young man who has visions involving a sinister giant rabbit. The creature, in turn, predicts the end of the world. Making Donnie Darko cost a total of BRL 23 million, while its collection almost surpassed the BRL 37 million mark.

Bonus

My Mother Is a Piece 3

This comedy that premiered in 2019 became a national box office success, being the second film with the highest grossing in the history of Brazilian cinema yet. The amount of BRL 8 million was allocated to the budget and the film managed to raise approximately BRL 143.9 million.

What is your favorite movie of all time? Do you know of any other production that could make our list?

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