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The Highest Grossing Independent Films of All Time

24/7 Wall St.
24/7 Wall St.
 2021-11-29

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2XrtFC_0d9CYNQD00 Independent films -- or “indies” -- are films produced outside the major studio system. They often differ from studio films in content and style. They are typically aimed at narrower audiences, and they don’t feature superheroes or spawn numerous sequels. They’re also usually (though not always) produced with lower budgets than major studio films. That means that if they become hits, they can be very, very profitable.

To determine the highest grossing independent films of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed worldwide ticket sales data for nearly 200 of the most popular independent films based on rankings on IMDb , an online movie database owned by Amazon; Rotten Tomatoes , an online movie and TV review aggregator; and Ranker , a digital opinion database. Ticket sales data and production budgets came from The Numbers , an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Information on cast and director came from IMDb.

“Cult classic” may be something of a cliché, but many of the films on our list deserve that accolade. For example 1967’s “The Graduate” and 1969’s “Easy Rider” were part of the 1960s counterculture. They helped launch the New Hollywood film era, when the major studios saw that big money could be made from low-budget films by avant-garde directors. Those films also made stars of Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson, respectively. ( These are the biggest ticket sales hits of the 1960s. )

Some of the films on our list had tiny budgets. “Night of the Living Dead” was made for $114,000 and grossed more than $200 million. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” was made for $140,000 and grossed almost $130 million. “The Blair Witch Project” had a budget of $600,000 -- tiny when adjusted for inflation -- and made a whopping $450 million. ( Here are the best horror movies ever made. )

Click here to see the highest-grossing independent films of all time

There are also films with big budgets and big stars that qualify as independent. For example, after the success of “Pulp Fiction” Quentin Tarantino went on to make “Inglourious Basterds” and the two “Kill Bill” films (all four are 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,” with a gross of almost $1 billion.

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50. Magnolia (1999)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $87,702,116
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $48,446,802
> Production budget: $37,000,000
> Starring: Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore
> Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

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49. The Big Lebowski (1998)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $90,212,461
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $46,189,568
> Production budget: $15,000,000
> Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
> Directed by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

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48. Pitch Black (2000)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $90,379,949
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $53,182,088
> Production budget: $23,000,000
> Starring: Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Vin Diesel
> Directed by: David Twohy

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47. 21 Grams (2003)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $90,639,377
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $59,667,625
> Production budget: $20,000,000
> Starring: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts
> Directed by: Alejandro G. Inarritu

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46. The Evil Dead (1981)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $96,871,942
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $29,400,000
> Production budget: $375,000
> Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
> Directed by: Sam Raimi

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45. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $106,794,947
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $72,401,378
> Production budget: $20,000,000
> Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson
> Directed by: Michel Gondry

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44. The Breakfast Club (1985)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $118,448,324
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $45,905,191
> Production budget: N/A
> Starring: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald
> Directed by: John Hughes

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43. Boyz n the Hood (1991)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $122,311,228
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $56,215,095
> Production budget: $6,500,000
> Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir
> Directed by: John Singleton

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42. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $128,784,942
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $26,572,439
> Production budget: $140,000
> Starring: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger
> Directed by: Tobe Hooper

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41. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $140,745,642
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $100,642,353
> Production budget: $8,000,000
> Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear
> Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

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40. Amadeus (1984)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $141,688,377
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $51,973,029
> Production budget: $18,000,000
> Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge
> Directed by: Milos Forman

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39. Crash (2004)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $149,234,304
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $101,173,038
> Production budget: $7,303,082
> Starring: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandiwe Newton
> Directed by: Paul Haggis

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38. The Lion in Winter (1968)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $151,625,901
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $22,295,024
> Production budget: N/A
> Starring: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins
> Directed by: Anthony Harvey

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37. Sideways (2004)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $161,851,447
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $109,726,800
> Production budget: $17,000,000
> Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen
> Directed by: Alexander Payne

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36. Lost in Translation (2003)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $177,860,916
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $117,085,297
> Production budget: $4,000,000
> Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
> Directed by: Sofia Coppola

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35. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $204,618,672
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $30,087,064
> Production budget: $114,000
> Starring: Kyra Schon, Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea
> Directed by: George A. Romero

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34. The Terminator (1984)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $212,694,739
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $78,019,031
> Production budget: $6,400,000
> Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
> Directed by: James Cameron

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33. No Country for Old Men (2007)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $218,396,439
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $164,035,753
> Production budget: $25,000,000
> Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin
> Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

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32. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $226,471,754
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $153,535,982
> Production budget: $55,000,000
> Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen
> Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

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31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $252,908,690
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $176,980,863
> Production budget: $13,900,000
> Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams
> Directed by: Ang Lee

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30. Get Out (2017)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $257,848,521
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $252,500,135
> Production budget: $5,000,000
> Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
> Directed by: Jordan Peele

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29. Paranormal Activity (2007)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $258,534,388
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $194,183,034
> Production budget: $450,000
> Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs
> Directed by: Oren Peli

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28. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $268,069,645
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $176,469,428
> Production budget: $55,000,000
> Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah
> Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

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27. Easy Rider (1969)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $269,178,843
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $41,728,598
> Production budget: N/A
> Starring: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson
> Directed by: Dennis Hopper

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26. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $272,052,521
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $236,412,453
> Production budget: $21,000,000
> Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
> Directed by: David O. Russell

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25. Papillon (1973)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $286,601,132
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $53,292,989
> Production budget: $13,500,000
> Starring: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory
> Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

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24. Juno (2007)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $308,151,589
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $231,450,102
> Production budget: $7,000,000
> Starring: Elliot Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner
> Directed by: Jason Reitman

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23. Apocalypse Now (1979)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $318,617,691
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $85,915,469
> Production budget: $31,500,000
> Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
> Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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22. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $326,203,617
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $221,148,959
> Production budget: $6,000,000
> Starring: Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Ben Affleck
> Directed by: Michael Moore

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21. Platoon (1986)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $340,669,029
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $137,978,395
> Production budget: $6,000,000
> Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
> Directed by: Oliver Stone

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20. Psycho (1960)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $352,274,700
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $32,000,000
> Production budget: N/A
> Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
> Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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19. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $362,856,103
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $213,514,672
> Production budget: $15,000,000
> Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang
> Directed by: Ang Lee

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18. Black Swan (2010)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $384,588,474
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $331,266,710
> Production budget: $13,000,000
> Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
> Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

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17. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $387,059,176
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $316,915,264
> Production budget: $70,000,000
> Starring: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth
> Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

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16. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $449,491,700
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $248,300,000
> Production budget: $600,000
> Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard
> Directed by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez

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15. Good Will Hunting (1997)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $450,867,551
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $225,925,989
> Production budget: $10,000,000
> Starring: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
> Directed by: Gus Van Sant

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14. Pulp Fiction (1994)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $477,968,672
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $212,894,343
> Production budget: $8,000,000
> Starring: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson
> Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

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13. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $488,735,503
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $71,863,512
> Production budget: $10,500,000
> Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
> Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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12. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $489,671,436
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $383,825,427
> Production budget: $14,000,000
> Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla
> Directed by: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan

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11. The King's Speech (2010)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $500,167,541
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $430,821,168
> Production budget: $15,000,000
> Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
> Directed by: Tom Hooper

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10. Dirty Dancing (1987)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $501,091,346
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $213,893,795
> Production budget: N/A
> Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach
> Directed by: Emile Ardolino

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9. The Full Monty (1997)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $521,360,424
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $261,249,383
> Production budget: $3,500,000
> Starring: Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy
> Directed by: Peter Cattaneo

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8. Billy Jack (1971)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $544,048,485
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $98,000,000
> Production budget: $800,000
> Starring: Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, Clark Howat
> Directed by: Tom Laughlin

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7. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $545,889,126
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $279,500,000
> Production budget: $26,000,000
> Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush
> Directed by: John Madden

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6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $592,067,709
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $374,890,034
> Production budget: $5,000,000
> Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine
> Directed by: Joel Zwick

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5. American Beauty (1999)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $644,925,634
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $356,258,047
> Production budget: $15,000,000
> Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch
> Directed by: Sam Mendes

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4. Se7en (1995)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $690,949,630
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $328,125,643
> Production budget: $30,000,000
> Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey
> Directed by: David Fincher
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10

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3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $736,776,591
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $163,281,275
> Production budget: $4,400,000
> Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman
> Directed by: Milos Forman

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2. The Graduate (1967)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $784,357,533
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $104,466,833
> Production budget: N/A
> Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
> Directed by: Mike Nichols

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1. The Passion of the Christ (2004)
> Worldwide ticket sales adjusted for inflation: $917,937,665
> Worldwide ticket sales at time of release: $622,313,635
> Production budget: $25,000,000
> Starring: Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Maia Morgenstern
> Directed by: Mel Gibson

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