(United Artists, 1976)
Literally almost down to eating cat food in a crappy apartment in the Valley north of Hollywood, with a script turned down twice by every major and minor studio in town, and every agent in existence, the writer is told that there's a buyer who'd like to pick it up. The author declines unless he gets to play the lead character. Incredibly, they agree to this insane request from a virtual nobody, make the thing in 28 days for less than $1M, and it grosses $225M worldwide on its way to the top. Of everything.
The story is one everyone knew their whole life, the actors they got for their slices of $1M were incredible (Burgess Meredith gave a performance for the ages), the movie is still a classic, and the author, Sylvester Stallone, became a box office legend.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing