IMDb Polls

Poll: Micro-Budget Movies That Paid Off Big

Micro-budgeted movies are made with a production budget of less than $400,000 US Dollars. These shoestring budgeted movies are often made by aspiring writers, directors and actors. Some are early projects by big budget blockbuster directors and actors before they became stars. Regardless, these micro budget films struck a chord with the moviegoers, showcased incredible talent and became huge box office smashes or found post-box office success as rental, video sales or streaming hits.

Which wildly successful micro budgeted movie* made for initially less than $250,000 is your favorite? * based on initial completed film budgets and uses just one type of movie income stream (box office) for comparison.

Vote in the companion poll: Low Budget Movies That Paid Off Big

Discuss the topic here.

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!
     

    El Mariachi (1992)

    Director: Robert Rodriguez

    Budget: $7,000

    Box Office: $2,040,920

    Profit %: 29,056%

  2. Vote!
     

    Paranormal Activity (2007)

    Director: Oren Peli

    Budget: $15,000 (post-acquisition budget of $450,000 after studio ordered post-production)

    Box Office: $193,355,800

    Profit %: 1,288,938%

  3. Vote!
     

    The Blair Witch Project (1999)

    Director: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez

    Budget:$22,500

    Box Office: 248,639,099

    Profit %: 1,104,962%

  4. Vote!
     

    Clerks (1994)

    Director: Kevin Smith

    Budget: $27,000 (post-acquisition budget of $230,000 after studio ordered post-production)

    Box Office: $3,151,130

    Profit %: 11,571%

  5. Vote!
     

    Pather Panchali (1955)

    Writer-Director Satyajit Ray

    Budget: <$30,000

    Box Office: $536,364 * US box office only

    Profit %: 1,688%

    * spawned similarly budgeted Apu trilogy mates: Aparajito and World of Apu

  6. Vote!
     

    Eraserhead (1977)

    Director: David Lynch

    Budget: $10,000

    Box Office: $7,000,000

    Profit %: 69,900%

  7. Vote!
     

    Night of the Living Dead (1968)

    Director: George A Romero

    Budget: $114,000

    Box Office: $42,000,000

    Profit %: 36,742%

  8. Vote!
     

    Deep Throat (1972)

    Producer: Tony Peraino

    Budget: $22,500

    Box Office: $100-600 million estimate

    Profit %: 444,344% - 2,666,567% estimate

  9. Vote!
     

    Following (1998)

    Writer-Director Christopher Nolan

    Budget: $4,000 (post-acquisition budget of $8,000 after studio ordered conversion from 16mm)

    Box Office: $48,482 *US Box Office only

    Profit %: 1,112%

    * launched Christopher Nolan's career, box office $1.8 billion

  10. Vote!
     

    Super Size Me (2004)

    Director: Morgan Spurlock

    Budget: $65,000

    Box Office: $20,641,054

    Profit %: 31,655%

  11. Vote!
     

    Roger & Me (1989)

    Writer-Director: Michael Moore

    Budget: $160,000

    Box Office: $7,706,386

    Profit %: 4816

  12. Vote!
     

    Swingers (1996)

    Writer-Actor: Jon Farveau

    Budget: $200,000

    Box Office: $4,550,020

    Profit %: 2,175%

    * launched multiple careers

  13. Vote!
     

    The Brothers McMullen (1995)

    Writer-Director Ed Burns

    Budget: $23,800*

    Box Office: $10,426,506* US box office only

    Profit %: 43,709%

  14. Vote!
     

    Pink Flamingos (1972)

    Writer-Director: John Waters

    Budget: $12,000

    Box Office: $7,000,000

    Profit %: 58,233%

  15. Vote!
     

    In the Company of Men (1997)

    Writer-Director Neil Labute

    Budget: $25,000

    Box Office: $4,882,577

    Profit %: 19,430%

  16. Vote!
     

    Brother (1997)

    Writer-Director: Aleksei Balabanov

    Budget: $10,000

    Box Office: *Top movie in Russia 1997, same year video release generated lion share of profit

  17. Vote!
     

    Open Water (2003)

    Director: Chris Kentis

    Budget: $130,000 (post-acquisition budget of $500,000 after studio ordered post-production)

    Box Office: $54,667,954

    Profit %: 10,834%

  18. Vote!
     

    Once (2007)

    Director: John Carney

    Budget: $150,000

    Box Office: $20,710,513

    Profit %: 13,707

  19. Vote!
     

    The Endless Summer (1966)

    Writer-Director-Producer: Bruce Brown

    Budget: $50,000

    Box Office: $20,000,000

    Profit %: 39,100%

  20. Vote!
     

    The Last House on the Left (1972)

    Writer-Director: Wes Craven

    Budget: $87,000

    Box Office: $3,100,000

    Profit %: 3163%

    * launched Wes Craven's career

  21. Vote!
     

    Bronson (2008)

    Writer-Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

    Budget: $230,000

    Box Office: $2,260,712

    Profit %: 883%

    * Tom Hardy and Nicolas Winding Refn breakthroughs

  22. Vote!
     

    Catfish (2010)

    Writer-Directors: Henry Joost, Andrew Sculman

    Budget: $30,000

    Box Office: $3,479,614

    Profit %: 11,499%

  23. Vote!
     

    Another Earth (2011)

    Writer-Director-Actress Mike Cahill and Brit Marling

    Budget: $100,000

    Box Office: $1,776,935

    Profit %: 1,677%

  24. Vote!
     

    The Gallows (2015)

    Writer-Directors: Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing

    Budget: $100,000

    Box Office: $42,964,410

    Profit %: 42,864%

  25. Vote!
     

    The Castle (1997)

    Director: Rob Stitch

    Budget: $20,000 (post-acquisition budget of $750,000 after studio ordered post-production)

    Box Office: $10,326,428 * Australia box office only

    Profit %: 51,532%

  26. Vote!
     

    Slacker (1990)

    Director: Richard Linklater

    Budget: $23,000

    Box Office: $1,228,108

    Profit %: 5,240%

  27. Vote!
     

    Pi (1998)

    Director: Darren Aronofsky

    Budget: $60,000

    Box Office: $3,221,152

    Profit %: 5,269%

  28. Vote!
     

    Primer (2004)

    Director: Shane Carruth

    Budget: $7,000

    Box office: $545,436

    Profit %: 7,692%

  29. Vote!
     

    Blood Feast (1963)

    Directors: Herschell Gordon Lewis

    Budget: $24,500

    Box Office: $4,000,000

    Profit %: 16,227%

  30. Vote!
     

    The Groove Tube (1974)

    Writer-Director: Ken Shapiro

    Budget: $200,000

    Box Office: $20,447,000 US Box Office only

    Profit %: 10,124%

  31. Vote!
     

    The Big Doll House (1971)

    Actors: Pam Grier Sid Haig

    Budget: $125,000

    Box Office: $10,000,000

    Profit %: 7,900%


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