James Bond’s golden anniversary moment in the spotlight hasn’t ended yet. The twenty-third film in the spy series, Skyfall, is still counting the cash, bringing home a total of $669 million so far (with a budget of $200 million). Website Pajiba recently surveyed 007’s place amongst the most expensive movies of all time, and the titles aren’t entirely surprising, but the numbers are indeed outrageous. The comprehensive list got us thinking about the opposite end of the spectrum: low-budget films that became unexpected hits. Success is subjective, and we’ve measured each movie by its cult likability and by the numbers (not adjusted for inflation). Click through for more movies made on the cheap that became big, and tell us your favorites.
The Pope of Trash was so broke when he made his 1972 exploitation comedy Pink Flamingos that he spent his weekdays struggling to raise money for the movie while shooting it on the fly during weekends. There was no cash for multiple reels, and the art department’s budget consisted of a whopping 200 bucks. “After that (running out of money), we would just steal things,” production designer Vincent Peranio admitted. Initially the raunchy underground flick played the college circuit, quickly gathering a cult following. The film was eventually picked up for distribution despite its trashy tale about two families vying for the title of “Filthiest Person Alive” and went on to gross in the millions. A 1997 re-release saw Waters raking in more money, but Pink Flamingos’ cult status as the trashiest film around makes it truly valuable.