The 50 most successful Indie movies of all time

Indie movies are the films produced independently of a major Hollywood studio.  They're typically lower budget, have fewer (or no) stars, and make less money than classic blockbusters. The upside is that they're free to experiment with subjects Hollywood simply refuses to touch, and can reach extremes that you'll never get in typical popcorn flicks. These are the very best of those movies, and you owe it to yourself to see... well, some of them.

The Devil Inside (2012)

The Movie: Proof that there's still life in 'found footage,' this low-budget horror from mini-major Paramount Insurge topped the American box-office in January despite scathing reviews.

Secrets Of Its Success: As also demonstrated by 2010's The Last Exorcism, demonic interventions remain a solid source of inexpensive but popular horror.

Primer (2004)

The Movie: Shane Carruth's time-travel thriller spent little cash ($7,000) but devoted its time to developing ideas, generating an entrepreneurial $424,000.

Secrets Of Its Success: The plot, a brain-scratcher of such complexity that Primer scholars have created diagrams trying to explain it.

Swingers (1996)

The Movie: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Doug Liman proved that being money was more than a numbers game; their dating comedy turned a $200,000 budget into a $4.5 million take.

Secrets Of Its Success: A lads' Bible on dating etiquette - and one that was far wittier and stylish than, say, Loaded magazine.

The Witch (2016)

The Movie: This tale of creeping dread has very much ridden the wave of our modern obsession with horror, transforming a relatively low budget project into a $25million success story. Far from deterring audiences with its scares, the less polished nature of this movie was actually its biggest draw.

Secrets Of Its Success: Horror is often at its best when low-budget, dirty, and very much free of that Hollywood gloss. The Witch has all this and more.

Midnight In Paris (2011)

The Movie: Woody Allen has never spent a lot of cash on his films; this one cost $17 million (a bargain, given its cast) and made $145 million, his biggest ever box office total.

Secrets Of Its Success: After a long time in the comedic doldrums, Allen's choice of nostalgic whimsy and old-school romance proved a winner.

Spotlight (2015)

The Movie: The remarkable retelling of how a team of journalists at the Boston Globe uncovered a massive, long-standing network of child abuse among members of the clergy in Boston (and beyond). This one cost a little more than most indies to make, but drew in a cool $25million at the box office.

Secrets Of Its Success: It's a brilliantly told story based on real-life events, with enough decent stars to draw the attention of mainstream audiences.

In The Company Of Men (1998)

The Movie: Renowned playwright Neil LaBute brought his corrosive vision to film, using his economical stagecraft to make this for $25,000 - an excellent rate of return considering it grossed $2.8 million.

Secrets Of Its Success: Everybody knew a character like Aaron Eckhart's predatory sexist, giving this the frisson of reality that ensures post-cinema debate amongst audiences.

Billy Elliot (2000)

The Movie: A hit film about a miner's son who wants to be a ballet dancer? Yup - a £3 million production made $109 million worldwide.

Secrets Of Its Success: Proof that Thatcherite politics and dancing are no bar to audiences' taste for solid storytelling and an underdog hero to root for.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

The Movie: When Focus Features dropped the beauty pageant road movie, the producer bought back the rights and went indie, its $8 million becoming $100 million after Sundance and Oscar success.

Secrets Of Its Success: The classic road movie set-up gatecrashed by the kind of whimsically dysfunctional family that only exists in indie movies.

The Last House On The Left (1972)

The Movie: Wes Craven's shocker about parents turning the tables on their daughters' rapists scandalised critics but touched a nerve amongst gorehounds who turned a $90,000 investment into a $3 million hit.

Secrets Of Its Success: A watershed in on-screen violence, this challenged a nation reeling from Vietnam to the point where the ad campaign was forced to insist, "Keep repeating, it's only a movie."