Big things have small beginnings: Hollywood blockbusters based on short movies

'Lights Out' arrives in Irish cinemas this weekend, based on a 3-minute short

This week sees the release of new horror movie Lights Out, and the $5 million production has already been a box-office success ($100 million worldwide and counting), which has been raking in some very positive reviews - though not everywhere.

The director has been given the Annabelle 2 gig off the back of it, and all based on this very effective three-minute scary short:

This is not the first time that Hollywood has sat up and taken notice of a hot new director based on their attention-grabbing short films, and there has been a myriad of commercial and critical successes off the back of them. Here's a collection of some of the more high-profile blockbusters that originated from a short movie.

Feature: This Is The End (2013)

Based on: Jay And Seth Versus The Apocalypse (2007)

How did it go?: Quite well, actually. The short film of two friends forced to live in close confinement when the world ends outside was stretched out into something much, much smarter by being a vicious attack on the idea of celebrity and self-importance. Critics loved it (83% on RT) and the $32 million movie made $126 million worldwide. Just don't go expecting a sequel...

Feature: District 9 (2009)

Based on: Alive In Joburg (2005)

How did it go?: Really, REALLY well. After getting the attention of Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy), who was going to put writer/director Neill Blomkamp in charge of the big-screen adaptation of Halo before funding fell through, Jackson continued to back his protege, helping him bag the $30 million needed for the feature length version of his short. $210 million at the box office and four Academy Award nominations later, District 9 is seen as one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.

Feature: Sin City (2005)

Based on: The Customer Is Always Right (2004)

How did it go?: Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller - who swore off Hollywood forever after his work on Robocop 2 and 3 - director Robert Rodriguez filmed a "proof on concept" in order to win the writer over. Once that worked, he then used the same short film to bag his big name cast including Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba. 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, $159 million on a $40 million budget, everything worked out great... but the less said about the sequel the better.

Feature: Saw (2004)

Based on: Saw (2003)

How did it go?: Fundamentally, it did the best of the lot on this list, despite critics only kinda liking the first one (48% on RT). The $1.2 million budget made a $104 million return, and six sequels later, the franchise has racked up just under a billion dollars in cinema tickets alone. Having said that, pretty much all of the sequels were pretty dire and inexplicably confusing in terms of plot, while Saw VIII: The Legacy will bring the series back in time for Halloween 2017. Hooray?

Feature: Mama (2013)

Based on: Mama (2008)

How did it go?: Having caught the eye of horror maestro Guillermo Del Toro, writer/director Andres Muschietti was given $15 million to make his Hollywood dream come true. The healthy $146 return kept his career very much alive, and he is currently working on the remake of Stephen King's It, due for release next year. The movie itself was fine (65% on RT), more interested in scaring you than making much sense.

Feature: Pixels (2015)

Based on: Pixels (2010)

How did it go?: In terms of box office, it actually did vaguely okay ($245 million from an $88 million budget), but as with any Adam Sandler movie, the critics came at it with a cleaver (a lousy 16% on Rotten Tomatoes). This is one of the rare occasions when the original writer/director wasn't brought over from the short film to the feature project, which is probably just as well for him, to be honest.

Feature: The Babadook (2014)

Based on: Monster (2005)

How did it go?: Critics loved it (98% on RT), but the public mostly stayed away, with the $2 million production making just $7.5 million around the world. It did, however, put writer/director Jennifer Kent on the map, who reportedly bypassed some big Hollywood blockbusters to focus on her 19th century lesbian gothic love story The Nightingale, due out sometime in 2017.