10 Good Movies That Needed A Bigger Budget To Be Actually Great


  • Some movies with limited budgets may fall short due to inadequate production value, preventing them from achieving greatness.
  • Low-budget films sometimes fail to fully realize their ambitious visions due to financial constraints, leaving them as adequate but not exceptional.
  • Additional funding could have transformed good movies into masterpieces, enhancing elements like casting, special effects, missing scenes, or the overall aesthetic, resulting in a more immersive and memorable cinematic experience.

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Some movies are just good enough to be enjoyable but lack the production value required to make them truly great — a problem usually stemming from an insufficient budget. These movies may have a moment with terrible special effects that take the viewer out of the immersive cinematic experience, or perhaps the limited budget caused something essential to be missing. If only the studios had spent a little more, they could have wound up with brilliant masterpieces instead of merely adequate films.

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These movies include low-budget indies with overly ambitious visions as well as auteur-driven blockbusters that didn’t go far enough with their spending. There are adaptations that skimped on essential elements and cult favorites that failed to meet their full potential for full-on classic movie status. Whatever the reason for their setback, these good movies really could have been something great with just an extra surplus of cash.

Related: 15 Movies That Should Have Been Awful But Turned Out Great

10 Cube (1997)

Needed: better actors and special effects

Characters trapped in a room in Cube


Release Date
September 11, 1998

Nicole de Boer, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Maurice Dean Wint

Vincenzo Natali

90 minutes

The cult classic movie Cube features a cast of unknowns, and the acting is only subpar as a result. This is unfortunate because its premise, involving a group of strangers trapped in a maze of rooms containing deadly traps, is actually rather brilliant. With its small budget of around $250,000, Cube is still impressive for what the filmmakers afforded. However, a more talented cast of actors and some better special effects, both of which would have been more costly, could have made it a bona fide sci-fi horror classic.

Related: Cube Movies Ranked, Worst to Best

9 John Dies At The End (2012)

Needed: parts of the book that couldn’t be adapted

A meat monster from John Dies at the End (2012)

John Dies at the End is based on David Wong’s 2007 novel of the same name about a street drug that sends its users to other dimensions, with the drawback being that they might return having undergone a horrific transformation. The movie’s tiny budget of less than $1 million unfortunately meant that it had to skip a large chunk of the book, including some of its best parts. John Dies at the End is still a fun movie and has become a cult classic, but with more money, it could have paid for those missing scenes and been a genuine horror-comedy masterpiece.

8 The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Needed: more scenes representing its ambitious scope

Frank Grillo as Barnes in The Purge Anarchy

The Purge: Anarchy

Release Date
July 18, 2014

Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, John Beasley, Jack Conley, Michael K. Williams

James DeMonaco

104 minutes

The Purge: Anarchy is one of the best Purge movies, continuing the franchise’s premise where all crime is legalized for one night annually. While the first film was primarily set in a single home, this sequel expands its scope to events taking place across the Greater Los Angeles Area. In doing so, the movie spreads itself too thin. This was likely the result of the production only spending around $10 million. The Purge: Anarchy is a good movie with an excellent lead performance from Frank Grillo, but it’s overly ambitious. It needed more money to achieve its intended vision.

7 Dune (1984)

Needed: better special effects and an improved aesthetic

A Guild Navigator in a tank speaks with the Emperor in Dune (1984)

David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune, based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name, is a sci-fi cult classic about two noble families battling to rule a near-inhospitable desert planet. While its budget wasn’t small, Dune is an ugly movie, distracting from the fact that it has a great story, excellent characters, and a brilliant cast. A larger budget to improve its special effects and aesthetic would have gone a long way to making a good movie great.

Related: 4 Things The 1984 Dune Got Right (& 6 Things The 2021 Version Did Better)

6 Vampires (1998)

Needed: its original script and casting choices

Sheryl Lee's Katrina stands in a doorway looking unimpressed in John Carpenter's Vampires

Based on the novel by John Steakley, this neo-Western action horror movie follows a group of vampire hunters who must prevent one of their enemies from acquiring a centuries-old artifact that will render him unstoppable. The adaptation was made on a minuscule budget of $20 million, which had been slashed during production from an original price tag of $60 million. Director John Carpenter had to alter the script to accommodate the financial loss, and actors Willem Dafoe and Dolph Lundgren wound up dropping out as a result. Vampires is well-acted and looks good, but it could have been even better with that extra $40 million.

Related: Every John Carpenter Movie Ranked, Worst To Best

5 The Godfather Part III (1990)

Needed: Robert Duvall and Winona Ryder

Sofia Coppola grinning as Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III.

The Godfather Part III

Release Date
December 25, 1990

Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Diane Keaton

Francis Ford Coppola

142 minutes

The Godfather Part III concludes Michael Corleone’s story as he attempts to make his criminal empire legitimate. It’s a good sequel but isn’t a great movie like its two predecessors, mainly because Robert Duvall wouldn’t reprise his role as Tom Hagen unless they paid him more, resulting in a rewrite. Also, the much-criticized casting of Sofia Coppola in a prominent role was partly because she was cheaper than the more talented original choice, Winona Ryder. The Godfather Part III received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and maybe it would have won some like the first two installments if it hadn’t been so cheap with its casting decisions.

Related: 2 Casting Changes Would Have Made The Godfather Part III Totally Different

4 Dredd (2012)

Needed: better special effects and sets


Release Date
September 21, 2012

Domhnall Gleeson, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby

Pete Travis

95 minutes

The sci-fi action movie Dredd is based on the classic Judge Dredd comic strips in the British magazine 2000 AD. Set in the sizable dystopian megalopolis of Mega-City One, it stars Karl Urban as the titular law enforcer, who has the power of judge, jury, and executioner in the crime-ridden metropolis. With a small budget by comic book movie standards, its CGI is poor, and its setting looks underwhelming and lacks the sense of scale that it should have. Dredd is a superb movie — gritty, action-packed, and terrifically acted — but it loses some of its impact because it all could’ve been even better.

3 Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Needed: better special effects

Deep Blue Sea

Release Date
July 28, 1999

LL Cool J, Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, Michael Rapaport, Samuel L. Jackson

Renny Harlin

105 minutes

Deep Blue Sea is a sci-fi horror movie about a team of scientists and researchers at an isolated underwater facility using mako sharks to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, the sharks go crazy, causing utter chaos as the facility floods, and they target the humans for food. Unfortunately, its inconsistent CGI makes it feel like a B movie, especially in a notorious scene where Samuel L. Jackson’s character is killed. Deep Blue Sea is a thrilling movie that boasts plenty of action and some excellent performances, with LL Cool J being the surprise standout. With a better budget, though, it would have been great.

Related: Deep Blue Sea Movies Ranked, Worst To Best

2 The Mist (2007)

Needed: better special effects

The Mist

Release Date
November 21, 2007

Laurie Holden, Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, Marcia Gay Harden

Frank Darabont

126 minutes

Based on Stephen King’s 1980 novella of the same name, The Mist follows a group of people in a small town as they become trapped in a supermarket when a mysterious, creature-filled fog engulfs the area. Sadly, some of the movie’s CGI is poor and jarring due to its relatively low budget of $18 million, especially in a scene when a laughable-looking tentacle drags away Chris Owen’s character, Norm. With a brilliant cast including Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden, The Mist is a terrifyingly bleak movie that’s superbly atmospheric, but it’s not quite great.

1 Power Rangers (2017)

Needed: the Rangers’ signature weapons

The 2017 Power Rangers movie is a loose adaptation of the pilot episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, «Day of the Dumpster.» It stars a fresh young cast, including Dacre Montgomery and Naomi Scott, alongside more established stars like Bill Hader as the voice of Alpha 5, Bryan Cranston as Zordon, and Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa. Sadly, its limited budget meant the titular characters couldn’t have their signature weapons, which took much away from the movie. Power Rangers still epitomizes the campy fun of the series that it’s based on, and it boasts lots of color and action, but small details can have a huge impact when they’re overlooked.

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