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Entertainment Trend for 2014: Low-Budget Movies=Big Business

This story appears in the December 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


There's a scene in Sharknado in which a great white shark, flung into the smoggy L.A. air by a freak tornado, is bisected by a chainsaw-wielding hero. This was, perhaps, the least shocking thing about the film. What's more amazing is that Sharknado was seen by more than 1 million people, and 300,000 tweeted enthusiastically about it the night of its premiere on the Syfy network.

Sharknado is one example of a "mockbuster," a new genre of film defined by the internet generation's insatiable demand for quirky, cheap content. Call it the version of the web's BuzzFeed. These movies resemble contemporary popcorn flicks but are produced in a fraction of the time (months instead of years) with a budget (usually less than $500,000) that would qualify as a rounding error on a big studio production. Despite shoddy quality, such films are finding an ever-growing audience and becoming a booming business.

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