Small-Budget, Independent Films Bank Big On Word Of Mouth
While several indie (independent films made outside the conventional studio system) masterpieces go unnoticed, there have been a few films that turned out to be smash hits. Their success almost came out of nowhere. One of the factors behind their success may be the great audience reviews and positive word of mouth. It can be difficult to make a perfect list of such indie films, here’s a look at some that turned out to be sleeper hits.
1. The Passion of The Christ
Mel Gibson’s passion project, “The Passion of The Christ” initially received negative reviews on its release as people heavily criticized it for its historical/biblical inaccuracies. However, the film gradually turned out to be a massive success becoming the highest-grossing independent movie of all time with a box office collection of $622 million, as per The Numbers. Mel Gibson funded the film’s $30 million budget entirely by himself and received a massive payout.
2. Slumdog Millionaire
“Slumdog Millionaire” was a special film as it didn’t have a global star to propel its popularity. However, actor Dev Patel’s portrayal of a young man from the slums of Mumbai who won a great fortune on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" impressed the audience worldwide. The movie had a worldwide gross of nearly $378 million at the box office, as per Box Office Mojo.
3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The indie comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” started slowly on its release but gradually grew popularity in after the second week. The ‘Hollywood Cinderella Story’ was propelled by Nia Vardalos who wrote and starred in the comedy. The film went on to gross over $360 million at the box office, as per Screen Rant.
4. The Full Monty
One of the highest-grossing indie films of all time, the success of “The Full Monty” came late making it a true sleeper hit. The film struck a chord with the audience at the time as it followed several working-class men and the issues that they would have in the north of England in the mid-'90s. With a budget of just $3.5 million, the film grossed over $258 million worldwide as per The Guardian.
5. The Blair Witch Project
The documentary-style horror film, “The Blair Witch Project” arguably changed the way horror movies were made. The film from Blumhouse Productions changed the business model of the company with its success. After an initial slow run, the film went off to gross over $248 million at the box office worldwide to become one of highest highest-grossing indie movies of all time, as per the New York Times.
6. Good Will Hunting
One of the classics, “Good Will Hunting” was the passion project of renowned actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who wrote the screenplay of the film. “Good Will Hunting” had a budget of just $10 million, half of which went to the late Robin Williams as per Screen Rant. While grossing a total of $225.9 million worldwide, the film also won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Writing.
The film “Juno” arguably surprised the critics as it unexpectedly grossed over $232 million globally as per IMDB. With a low budget of $6.5 million, the film impressed the audience with Ellen Page’s performance as a pregnant teenager, stood out. The film also features a stunning soundtrack by Kimya Dawson and is regarded as Ellen Page’s best movie according to IMDB.
8. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
One of the few international movies to make an impact at the box office, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” transcended language barriers to reach global audiences. Despite being a small release for a non-English language movie, positive word of mouth helped it to gross over $213,966,221 at the global box office as per The Numbers.
9. Everything Everywhere All at Once
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” became the latest independent film to send shockwaves across the world with its massive success. While the film collected over $139 million at the box office (as per Box Office Mojo), its success was aided by the seven Academy Awards it won in various categories including Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Film Editing, Best Writing, Best Supporting Actor and in Best Actress.
Regarded as one of the best independent war films, “Platoon” has been praised for its realistic depiction of war as writer-director Oliver Stone drew on his own experiences during the war. While the. While the movie opened small it quickly gained praise from the critics and its Oscar buzz helped it to gross over $138.5 million at the box office as per IMDB.
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