5 Astoundingly Great Movies Made On A Shoestring Budget

5 Astoundingly Great Movies Made On A Shoestring Budget
Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Roadshow Film Distributors

As these five clearly demonstrate, you don't necessarily need billions of dollars to make a cinematic masterpiece.

Reading about the huge budgets of the latest MCU blockbuster or Avatar: The Water War can be quite fascinating, as it is sometimes hard to believe how much money studios are willing to spend on the next big thing.

However, a huge budget does not automatically mean that the movie will be great, and on the contrary, sometimes a cinematic masterpiece can be created with a budget the size of pocket change (by Hollywood standards).

Here are five great movies that prove big budget isn't everything.

Clerks (1994) — $27,575

Kevin Smith's full-length directorial debut, Clerks, was shot on a shoestring budget of just $27,575 in the stores where the director worked in real life, and for the same reason, the movie was shot in black and white.

It was exceptionally well received by critics and fans, and grossed $4.4 million, more than 159 times its budget.

Trainspotting (1996) — $900,000

Now considered the ultimate cult classic, Danny Boyle 's adaptation of Irvine Welsh's book of the same name cost £1.5 million to make, and considering that the US dollar to pound sterling exchange rate in 1996 was around 0.6, that translates into $900,000.

The movie did well at the box office, grossing $72 million, making it a creative and financial success.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) — $400,000

Jared Hess' independent comedy starring Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez became a surprise hit and has even achieved cult status over the years.

Filmed at Preston High School and various locations in Franklin County, Idaho, it cost only $400,000 to make and grossed an incredible (for such a seemingly niche film) $46.1 million.

Mad Max ( 1979) — $315,000-360,000

George Miller's directorial debut starring Mel Gibson, which started a whole new franchise set in a future dystopian Australia, cost A$350,000-400,000 to make, and with the 1979 US dollar to Australian dollar rate of about 0.9, that makes a budget of $315,000-360,000.

Needless to say, the film was a huge success, launching both Miller's and Gibson's careers and grossing $100 million.

The Raid (2011) — $1.1 million

While the budget for Gareth Evans' action thriller may seem large compared to other entries on our list, it is hard to believe that such breathtaking action sequences can be created on such a small budget.

The Raid doesn't look cheap for a second and is considered one of the greatest modern martial arts films.