10 of Hollywood’s Most Surprising and Heartening Success Stories

Mad Max

Budget: $400,000
Gross: $100 million worldwide

George Miller was working as an emergency room doctor in Melbourne when he met amateur filmmaker Byron Kennedy and decided to try his hand at moviemaking. He drew inspiration for the story of a gas-starved dystopian future from the 1973 oil crisis (and from auto injuries he’d viewed during his hospital tours), but it took him several years to work up the meager budget. However, when the film was finally released in 1979, it was a giant hit around the world (and even a modest success in the US, where the Australian cast — including Mel Gibson — was redubbed entirely by American actors). The rough, stylish, and hyper-violent picture begat two sequels and kick-started the careers of both Miller and Gibson.