The Under-$50 Million Movie Is Endangered. Three Distributors are Fighting to Save It.

As studios double down on franchises, sequels, comic books, and events that pull audiences into bigger-better-brighter cinemas, movies that cost less than $50 million look like an endangered species.

Studios already find it tough to justify risky, original dramas — like F.

Gary Gray’s “Straight Outta Compton,” which cost $28 million and grossed $206 million worldwide.

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley nurtured that movie, and fought to make it.

But not every movie has such a passionate champion.“Tons of projects never even get to the greenlight meeting,” said one senior studio executive.

“We can’t make the P&L work.

The physical business [DVD sales] is declining at a rate of 10-11 percent.

The digital business is not growing enough to offset physical declines.

And the growth of the international box office doesn’t translate to ancillaries.”That’s when a producer who can’t get a studio movie made — like “Bird Box,

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