A list of the highest-grossing movies of all time is filled with films made by studios. Many of them are superhero or Star Wars movies. Studios had the capital to make these films, some of which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce. Recently, the most expensive films have been made by new “studios” like Amazon, Apple and Netflix, which make films to increase the number of people who subscribe to their streaming services.
Independent films are defined as those not made by major studios. Every once in a while, we break through and have a big hit at the box office. However, this is rare.
To determine the highest-grossing independent film of all time, 24/7 Tempo examined worldwide ticket sales data for nearly 200 of the most popular independent films based on ratings on IMDb, a database online movies owned by Amazon; Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator; and Ranker, a digital opinion database. Data on ticket sales and production budgets came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Cast and director information is sourced from IMDb.
Some of the movies we considered had low budgets. “Night of the Living Dead” was made for $114,000 and grossed over $200 million. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” was made for $140,000 and grossed nearly $130 million. “The Blair Witch Project” had a budget of $600,000 (tiny after adjusting for inflation) and grossed $450 million.
From time to time, there are also big budget films and big stars who call themselves independent. For example, after the success of “Pulp Fiction”, Quentin Tarantino followed up with the two films “Kill Bill” and “Inglourious Basterds” (all four were on our list). And showing just how broad the category is, the highest-grossing independent film of all time is “The Passion of the Christ,” grossing nearly $1 billion.
“The Passion of the Christ” was released in 2004, directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci and Maia Morgenstern. Here are the box office details:
- Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $917,937,665
- Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $622,313,635
- Production budget: $25,000,000
Click here to see all of the highest-grossing independent films of all time.