B movies are generally considered to be low budget films without the greatest production values. But where is the line in the sand that divides a B-movie from its richer brethren? (Also, who draws this line? The critics?)

Is Insidious: Chapter 2 considered a B-movie? It was apparently made on a budget of USD 5M and has raked in USD 102M.

  • 2
    In answer to the other question, no, I wouldn't consider Insidious 2 a B-movie. It is really well-crafted and there is no sign of any tongues in cheeks ;)
    – Nobby
    Oct 11, 2013 at 18:16

2 Answers 2


A B-Movie isn't really a measure of budget, but rather is a genre all of its own.

For example, by your criteria The Blair Witch Project would be considered a B-Movie due to its tiny budget and low production values, but this is not the case. At the other end of the spectrum, we could consider Pacific Rim to be one of the biggest budgeted B-movies around, so it is worth examining what constitutes a B-movie.

This wiki link contains a lot of interesting information, namely that the B-movie has evolved from being the second (or 'bottom') movie in a double-bill into a class of its own - glorified and emulated by seasoned professionals in the industry.

Another great example to consider is Mars Attacks which is a supremely well-crafted, big budget movie with its roots firmly in B-movie territory.

At the end of the day, the whole B-movie genre is rather ambiguous, often (as you suggest) at the mercy of critics who like to pigeon-hole films. For the record, most of the movies coming out of the Asylum or SyFy stables are considered B-movies, and it is true that their budgets rarely exceed $1.5M and the production quality is sometimes horrendous.

It seems the whole genre hangs on the whim of critical reception and filmmaker intentions, and probably less to do with investment.

  • Thanks. Personally, I don't consider either Mars Attacks or Pacific Rim to be B-movies. They are just parodies of or homages to "old school" B-movies. So is it just a case of labels having changed? Are what were B-movies called something else now? I don't think arthouse or independent (as Blair Witch was) really fit. How would you classify The Brown Bunny, Primer and Alone with Her (from the wiki)? Oct 11, 2013 at 18:41
  • Brown Bunny - art film Primer - sci fi Alone with Her - thriller But there I go, forcing my own labels onto them... hence the ambiguity :)
    – Nobby
    Oct 12, 2013 at 19:38
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    One of my film-class textbooks described part of the distinction in terms of the investment model. A B-movie production company would in many cases have a contract to produce some number of movies for a certain price, and would have no direct financial interest in how its films performed beyond possible effects on future contracts. Feature films carry a lot of downside risk but have significant upside potential as well. In many cases, B movies had neither. If a contract said a production house would get paid X dollars it would get paid X dollars whether the film was good or garbage.
    – supercat
    Sep 25, 2015 at 22:19

$5m to $20m is a reasonable guess. You can do your own budget quite easily using this guide on planning an indie budget.

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