10 Films You Didn't Realise Were Gigantic Successes

Just because it didn't spawn five sequels, doesn't mean it wasn't a success.

napoleon dynamite school
Fox Searchlight

Nowadays, if a production doesn't break all of the records, most casual cinephiles will deem that project as less of a success than whatever Disney, Marvel or Star Wars movie has recently dominated the box office.

Yet, genuine success should always be measured in how much profit or buzz a film has managed to conjure up based on what its original budget was.

Horror smash hit Smile definitely didn't come close to surpassing the box office monsters that were Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water in 2022. But, in earning over $200 million at the box office on a relatively small $17 million budget, it became a gigantic success in terms of its sheer profitability.

However, some films weren't fortunate enough to find themselves with a high level of press/social media exposure or even a budget over $1 million. Nevertheless, they still went on to become massive financial and/or critical successes, despite never being lauded quite as much as the aforementioned box office juggernauts.

You've probably heard of/seen some of these flicks or perhaps you didn't even know they existed, either way you would be forgiven for not realising that these ten features were some of the most prosperous films ever made.

10. Once (2007)

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Buena Vista Pictures

Musicals - or films about/involving a lot of music - have a habit of chipping away at the box office and sticking around for a while.

So, when a romantic musical drama set in Ireland wandered onto the scene in 2007 - after years stuck in development - many rightfully thought that the mellifluous film (with a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score) would make a bit of noise and convince people to head to the cinema to see what all the fuss was about.

At both the Sundance and Dublin Film Festivals, Once won the audience awards and even Steven Spielberg praised the little flick for giving him 'enough inspiration to last the year.'

The film didn't break the wheel or earn anywhere near as much as other musical entries like The Greatest Showman (2017) or A Star is Born (2018), but it still performed admirably based on how much the plucky indie cost to produce.

On a $150,000 budget, the film went on to gross $23.3 million worldwide. Which is quite staggering when you really think about it.

An Academy Award for Best Original Song (for the film's standout tune, 'Falling Slowly') was the icing on the cake for a picture which - though critically lauded - isn't remembered or respected anywhere near enough for its fantastic performance and success in theatres all around the world.


Lifts rubber and metal. Watches people flip in spandex and pretends to be other individuals from time to time...