PLANET OF THE APES
Originally, the set was supposed to be incredibly modern with apes shopping, driving, watching movies, etc. But the producers wouldn’t pay for that. Instead, they hired a new writer who gave us this iconic barren wasteland.
Creator Vince Gilligan originally set Breaking Bad in Riverside, California. Albuquerque, New Mexico was all they could afford though. In the end, New Mexico’s look and feel are what made the series into what Gilligan called “a contemporary western”.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Marty was originally supposed to drive into a Nevada test nuke blast, but that was far too expensive. The writers came up with a cheaper solution using the clock tower. The result was arguably one of the most iconic climaxes in movie history.
Rocky’s iconic ice skating date only became so special because the film ran out of money. They were supposed to have 300 extras at the rink, but burned through their cash too fast, resulting in an amazingly intimate first date scene.
The TARDIS was initially going to change shape regularly to fit in with its surroundings. When producers realized that that would cost too much, they decided the “chameleon circuit” would be permanently broken, leaving it as the iconic police box forever.
At the time, Paramount refused to fund Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. So, he secretly used his crew and budget for the series Alfred Hitchcock Presents to also produce Psycho, trying to disguise it as just another episode. To put this in perspective, that’s like J.J. Abrams disguising Cloverfield as an episode of Castle Rock.
Determined to make a time-traveling cyborg film, with essentially no budget, James Cameron used “guerrilla filming” tactics. Much of the movie takes place at night because there was less chance of running into police since they didn’t have a filming permit.
That famous neo-noir visual style also came from free pesticide fog. The movie was filmed during the Mexican Fruit Fly panic when LA was covered in pesticide mist. At first, Cameron wanted to wait for it to clear, but then wound up using the mist for added effect.
Lost apparently had a serious problem with blowing their budget. So, they saved most of the third season’s budget for its final half, which forced Kate, Jack, and Sawyer to spend the first half in cages in order to save money. The result was an amazing season finale with one of the show’s best twists.
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL
Some of the most iconic scenes from this cult classic were done out of necessity. The creators couldn’t afford horses, so instead they used an old BBC radio trick of banging coconuts together. The side-splitting results went down in comedy history.
TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE
Instead of spending money on music, director Tobe Hooper decided to make it himself. With a sound recordist, he did things like scream into a cardboard tube, “torture” an upright bass, and play broken instruments. His tactics resulted in one of the scariest horror soundtracks of all time.
THE WALKING DEAD
There was actually no narrative reason for the cast to spend an entire season on a farm. But, right before filming, AMC slashed the show’s season 2 budget, forcing them to use as much of the farm as possible. However, it made for one of the show’s best seasons, and the finale became AMC’s most watched episode ever at the time.