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Top 10 Cheap Movies Turned Into Millions

Updated on March 21, 2016
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10. Napoleon Dynamite (2004) - $400,000

The 2004 cult hit, Napoleon Dynamite, directed by Jared Hess, was budgeted only $400,000, but would make a proportionate killing, totaling $46 Million from global box office sales. Obviously the show would only find success, as it was packed with such skilled actors. On top of winning 4 teen choice Awards, Idaho Legislature commended the filmmakers of the movie, stating they did a good job showcasing the cultural and economic aspects of Idaho, and that the movie has brought lots of tourists and revenue to the state.

9. Night of the Living Dead (1968) - $114,000

It seems as of late that you just can't escape the love of Zombies, they're simply everywhere. It wasn't until 1968 however, that the now legendary George A. Romero would first depict the zombie as a flesh hungering, cannibalistic, walking corpse, in Night of the Living Dead. Budgeted for $114,000, or about $775,000 by today's standards; the film would grasp hold of insurmountable success, grossing a global box office total of $30 million, or about about $204 Million today, ushering forth a new era for horror standards.

8. Super Size Me (2004) - $65,000

Back in 2004, director Morgan Spurlock conducted and filmed a social experiment called "Super Size Me", with a budget of $65,000. This documentary-style film shows the span of 30-days, in which Morgan lived off of nothing besides McDonald's food. It would go on to show the changes in his health and life by keeping such a diet, and apparently the world cared enough to turn the project into a pretty penny, grossing the film an astounding $22 million at the global box office.

7. Mad Max (1979) - $350,000

Australian film director and screenwriter George Miller, would go on to create one of the most successful science fiction franchises, Mad Max, with a proclaimed budget of $350,000. The film stars Mel Gibson in his first starring role, and is set in a post-apocalyptic future where oil is more valuable than gold. Mad Max would go to make around $9 Million at the domestic box office, but would crush the international box office sales, making an additional $91 Million, for a total of $100 Million globally.

6. Rocky (1976) - $1 Million

"I ain't no bum, Mick. I ain't no bum." proclaimed by Sylvester Stallone's, character Rocky; and he certainly proved that Rocky was indeed, no bum. Written by Stallone himself, the movie was given a decent budget for the time at $1 Million, but Rocky would go on to gross an astounding $225 Million globally. Shot in just 28 days, director John G. Avildsen would receive the Academy Award for best director.

5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) - $5 Million

The movie adaptation of Nia Vardalos' one-woman play, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, would rocket her into overnight success. The film tells the tale of a Greek woman and her struggle as she finds love outside of the Greek tradition her family holds so dear. It was given the budget of $5 Million and would be released in 2002. She must have "put a little Windex on it", as the movie would dominate the domestic box office, netting almost $375 Million. The huge success garnered from the film opened up the door for Nia to go on and produce many more movies in the ROM-com genre.

4. Saw (2004) - $1.2 Million

"Greetings, and welcome. I wanna play a game!" The catch phrase of the horrendous Jigsaw, the antagonist in the 2004 horror movie, Saw. The film's budget was a meager $1.2 Million for writer/director James Wan's unique and psychological thriller to come to life; and it did just that, with a worldwide gross of around $104 Million. The film would be considered successful enough that it spawned a multitude of sequels, each of which did fairly well at the box office themselves.

3. Juno (2007) - $7 Million

With so many coming of age tales out there, it's really difficult to figure out the winning formula to success in the genre. Director Jason Reitman though, happened to do just that with his 2007 film, Juno. The story follows young Juno, her pregnancy, and the journey she faces in an attempt to find adoptive parents for her unborn child. Adapted from Diablo Cody's screenplay, the film was given the budget of roughly $7 Million which would turn into a staggering $231.5 Million at the worldwide box office.

2. The Blair Witch Project (1999) - $60,000

The Blair Witch Project, co-directed by Eduardo Sanchez, and Daniel Myrick, is a first-of-its-kind horror movie filmed and originally advertised as a true story. The film, told through the "found footage" is about a group of 3 rookie filmmakers that vanished while making a documentary. Daniel and Eduardo would budget $60,000 for the film, that they would soon transform into an astonishing $248 Million at the box office. This goes to show that putting forth effort in powerful marketing campaigns and suspenseful teasers, over that of big name actors and actresses or expensive special effects is sometimes a more successful tactic.

1. Paranormal Activity (2009) - $15,000

Directed, produced and written by Oren Peli, for a pittance of $15,000, it would release initially, albeit a very limited one in 2007, but it wasn't considered to be truly released until 2009. The movie would go to make $194 Million or so at the worldwide box office, finding success not so much in its bland and incredibly predictable story; as it has been done many times before this. Paranormal Activity achieved its fame due to the method style of shooting they used, utilizing the "found footage" technique through security cameras and other devices.

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