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The Year's 10 Highest Grossing Modestly Budgeted and Art House Films

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | September 9, 2013 | Comments ()


Vin Diesel’s Riddick was the top movie of the weekend on what was also the lowest-grossing overall weekend of the year. Riddick made $18 million, which was very much in line with expectations, and given the modest expectations for Riddick overseas, the film should ultimately end up with around $75 million worldwide. That would be a terrible number for the previous installment, Chronicles of Riddick, which cost $105 million, but the studio learned from that mistake. There is a specific audience for the Riddick movies, and a low ceiling for its box-office possibilities. By reducing the budget from $105 million to Riddick’s $38 million, the studio — and Vin Diesel — is likely to actually earn its money back, with a little pocket change to put toward another installment.

In fact, if it weren’t for these $40 million films, Hollywood would probably completely lack in comedies and horror movies these days, as most of them fall into the under $40 million category. Otherwise, it’d be nothing but comic books, superheroes, and action movies. The under $40 million set do pretty well, too, as these box-office hits can attest.

Highest Grossing Films with a Production Budget Under $40 million

1. The Conjuring — $135 million ($244 million internationally) on a $20 million budget

2. Identity Thief — $134 million ($173 million) on a $35 million budget

3. We’re the Millers — $123 million ($163 million) on a $37 million budget.

4. This is the End — $98 million ($116 million) on a $32 million budget

5. Lee Daniels’ The Butler — $91 million on a $30 million budget

6. Mama — $71 million ($146 million) on a $15 million budget

7. Safe Haven — $70 million on a $28 million budget

8. Warm Bodies — $66 million ($116 million) on a $35 million budget

9. The Purge — $64 million ($85 million) on a $3 million budget

10. Evil Dead — $54 million ($97 million) on a $17 million budget

I would guess, too, that the mid-level movies — low risk, high reward — are even better bets than art-house films, which are typically low risk, low reward. It typically takes a guy like Matthew McConaughey, Steve Carell, Brad Cooper, or Ryan Gosling for these movies to even have a chance, and while the 10 highest grossing art films of the year (so far) were all profitable, nobody is lining their pockets with cash because of them.

The 10 Highest Grossing Art House Films of the Year

1. Blue Jasmine — $25 million

2. Mud — $21 million

3. The Place Beyond the Pine — $21 million

4. The Way, Way Back — $20 million

5. Quartet — $18 million

6. Fruitvale Station — $15 million

7. Spring Breakers — $14 million

8. Before Midnight — $8 million

9. The Bling Ring — $5.8 million

10. Spectacular Now — $4.8 milion

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Jim

    I wonder if Aniston did the savvy thing and bet on a % of the take?

  • Fredo

    Do these budget totals include their marketing cost or are they just for production? Cause I remember being bombarded by the marketing for Identity Thief and for The Purge and I can't believe that was all $35 mil or $3 mil each.

  • John W

    As a horror fan I'm glad to see so many horror movies do well.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Particularly SAFE HAVEN, in which the ghost of Cobie Smulders haunts a small town.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Now, that's just mean.

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