|B.O. cume: $989 million
Top title: “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” (Fox, $69 million)
LONDON — The summer of 2005 has proved there are no certainties in the U.K. indie distribution business, except that Entertainment Film Distributors will always come out on top at the box office.
Entertainment has logged the four highest-grossing indie releases of the year to date, with “Wedding Crashers” way out in front with $23 million. It’s followed by “Valiant” ($14.9 million), “White Noise” ($11.3 million) and “Monster-in-Law” ($11.1 million).
The stronger-than-expected performance of “Valiant,” along with decent enough showings by Pathe’s “The Magic Roundabout” and Momentum’s “Racing Stripes,” shows kid pics are at a premium in the indie marketplace, if distribs can only manage to get hold of them.
The surprise of the summer is Pathe’s boffo result with the Paul Haggis drama “Crash.” As an L.A.-centric drama about racial issues, this is the kind of high-quality indie pic that routinely underperforms outside the States.
But Pathe managed to market it like a major studio thriller rather than an edgy indie item.
“We almost banned the word ‘race,’ and we did arguably one of the most boring posters we’ve ever produced, a Mount Rushmore with every member of the cast,” says Pathe’s distrib chief Ian George. “We tried to make it look like a big studio-backed film.”
Backed by strong reviews and good word of mouth, the movie has soared to $10.2 million — better even than Entertainment’s Oscar-fueled result with “Million Dollar Baby” ($9.5 million) earlier in the year.
On the downside, two highly anticipated horror pics — Pathe’s “The Descent” and Optimum’s “Wolf Creek” — failed to light the expected fires. “The Descent” had the misfortune to come out the day after the London underground and bus bombings, and struggled to $4.7 million. “Wolf Creek” will reach about $3.5 million.
DVD value should still be strong on both pics, although that market is no longer quite what it was. “DVD was like shooting fish in a barrel, but the fish are getting fewer and farther between as the audience gets more selective,” says George.