The top indies, studio speciality units
The top 10 U.S. indies and studio specialty units that cumed above $2 million since Labor Day 2009.
1. Summit Entertainment
Summit took the No. 1 spot among indie distribs with $736.8 million in total domestic grosses, fueled by B.O. blockbusters from the “Twilight” stable of sequels “New Moon” ($298.8 million) and “Eclipse” ($296.6 million). “Letters to Juliet” wrote home with a pleasing $53 million, making it Summit’s third-highest grosser of 2010, and “Red,” released this month, is off to a rip-roaring start, grossing $44.6 million in its first 10 days. Summit proved smart in acquiring U.S. rights to Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” one of the top-grossing indie titles of the year at $15.5 million. Company didn’t do so well by “Astro Boy” ($19.6 million) and “Furry Vengeance” ($17.6 million), which failed to galvanize family auds.
Up next: “Fair Game” (Nov. 5)
Lionsgate’s domestic haul of $526.9 million was good for second place among indie distribs, even while having to battle a hostile (and ongoing) takeover bid by corporate raider Carl Icahn. While Tyler Perry once again topped the Lionsgate hit list, testosterone-driven “The Expendables” was the indie’s surprise 2010 star. Pic has grossed more than $90 million domestically. “Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself” and “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too” followed up with $60.1 million and $51.7 million, respectively. “Kick-Ass,” an acquisition, was another notable, cuming $48.1 million. Lionsgate also scored with “The Last Exorcism.” Film cost a pittance to acquire but grossed $33.5 million domestically. Performing only so-so for its size and scope was romantic comedy “Killers” ($47.1 million).
Up next: “For Colored Girls” (Nov. 5), “Rabbit Hole” (Dec. 17)
3. Overture Films
In what turned out to be its swan-song year, Overture Films’ B.O. receipts clocked in at $197 million. Topping the list was “Law Abiding Citizen” ($73.3 million); placing No. 2 was “The Crazies” at $39.1 million, followed by George Clooney topliner “The Men Who Stare at Goats” ($32.4 million). But as 2010 rolled on, it became clear that Liberty topper John Malone and newly installed Starz topper Chris Albrecht wanted to shed Overture and get away from the movie biz. This summer, Overture’s Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett abruptly resigned. Not longer after, the rest of the Overture crew headed for Relativity Media to start a distribution arm. They also handled the final three Overture titles, “Jack Goes Boating,” “Let Me In” and “Stone,” to little fanfare.
4. Fox Searchlight
With more than $124 million in domestic gross, Fox Searchlight continued its strong B.O. streak with “Crazy Heart,” which grossed a sizeable $39 million and claimed considerable awards attention. “Just Wright” followed with $21 million, while “Our Family Wedding” cumed $20 million. Biopic “Amelia” was a B.O. disappointment, grossing just $14.2 million. Among more indie fare, “500 Days of Summer” also did only so-so, cuming $4 million. But “Cyrus” picked up the pace, grossing north of $7 million for Searchlight, while “My Name Is Khan” also was a wild success at $4 million.
Up next: “127 Hours” (Nov. 5), “Black Swan” (Dec. 3)
5. The Weinstein Co.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein have had a busy year. They may have lost a bid to acquire their pride and joy — Miramax — but they completed an aggressive debt restructuring that’s given their company new life. At the B.O., the Weinstein Co. took in total grosses of $108 million, led by summer 2009 releases “Inglourious Basterds” and “Piranha 3D.” Otherwise, it’s been a choppy year at the box office. “Nine” failed to find the right note with auds, cuming under $20 million. Michael Cera dramedy “Youth in Revolt” cumed $15.3 million while, among 2009 award contenders, Tom Ford’s critically acclaimed “A Single Man” grossed $9.2 million and the “The Road” $8.1 million. Company’s spirits should improve with the release of “The King’s Speech” this month.
Up next: “The King’s Speech” (Nov. 25), “Company Men” (Dec. 10), “Blue Valentine” (Dec. 31)
6. Focus Features
Focus Features is feeling fit these days, proving there’s still a place and time for arthouse fare. Company’s B.O. receipts were $101.7 million, led by “9” with $31.7 million. Sundance acquisition “The Kids Are All Right” was the real surprise, grossing $19.9 million to become the No. 1 indie of 2010 so far. Company also gushed over the results for documentary “Babies,” which cumed a healthy $7.3 million. (Moreover, both films were considered sizeable marketing wins.) Among other releases, Ethan and Joel Coen’s “A Serious Man” grossed a solid $9.2 million. Sore spot on the company’s slate was Ben Stiller topliner “Greenberg,” which grossed just $4.2 million and generated plenty of not-so-nice headlines. Nor did “Pirate Radio” rock the house, cuming $8 million. Post-Labor Day release “The American,” toplining George Clooney, topped out at $19.8 million.
Up next: “Somewhere” (Dec. 22)
The Lion’s release slate ground to a halt as the company tried to find a way out of its financial morass. Creditors have now approved a debt restructuring plan that puts Spyglass toppers Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber in charge, as well as giving corporate raider Carl Icahn a seat on the board. It’s unclear whether Lionsgate and Icahn have a shot at a separate plan to buy the company. MGM has only released two films since Labor Day 2009, “Hot Tub Time Machine,” which grossed a solid $50 million, and a redo of “Fame,” which wilted at $22 million domestically. That gave MGM total domestic grosses of $72 million. There’s still no cast or release date for “Poltergeist” and an untitled “Three Stooges” project. Just how long it will take the Lion to roar again is anybody’s guess.
8. Sony Pictures Classics
Tom Bernard and Michael Barker’s Sony Pictures Classics remains a rock in stormy times. Sticking to its traditional indie model, Sony Classics had a good year with total B.O. receipts of $66 million. Critically acclaimed “An Education” topped the list at $12 million, followed by a strong showing for “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” and “The Last Station,” which earned $6.8 and $6.6 million, respectively. Foreign-language Oscar winner “The Secret in Their Eyes” was a sleeper hit, earning $6.3 million. Other foreign-language fare doing solid biz included “Broken Embraces” ($4.9 million), “The White Ribbon” ($2.2 million) and “A Prophet” ($2.1 million). Sony Classics doesn’t need the big grosses a larger company does, since it keeps a tight rein on marketing costs. One film that got rave reviews but didn’t make a big B.O. mark was Aussie pic “Animal Kingdom,” which grossed $574,789.
Up next: “Made in Dagenham (Nov. 19), “The Illusionist (Dec. 25), “Another Year” (Dec. 29)
9. CBS Films
CBS Films continued to struggle to make its mark as an indie theatrical player. Distrib had a more modest-than-predicted slate, with only two releases since Labor Day 2009. Alan Poul’s romantic comedy “The Back-Up Plan,” released in April, topped out at $37 million domestically. Brendan Fraser-Harrison Ford topliner “Extraordinary Measures” was a box office dud, grossing just $12 million in its nine-week run. CBS Films has only one film left to unspool this year: “Faster.” Its 2011 slate has two movies dated so far, “The Mechanic” (Jan. 28) and “Beastly” (March 18).
Up next: “Faster” (Nov. 24)
After an intense and headline-grabbing bidding war, Disney finally agreed to sell Miramax for a reported $660 million to the newly formed Filmyard Holdings comprising construction magnate Ron Tutor, Colony Capital and a group of smaller investors. Miramax’s modest earnings at the domestic B.O. topped out at $37.6 million, with most from the August release of Jennifer Aniston-Jason Bateman romantic comedy “The Switch,” which grossed $22 million. “Everybody’s Fine” failed to shine, grossing $9 million, followed by “Extract” at $5 million. The status of Miramax titles “The Debt” and “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is uncertain. Originally, Disney was set to release John Madden’s “The Debt” and the Guillermo Del Toro-produced “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” on behalf of Filmyard. But those plans have changed, with Disney removing the titles from its release calendar in October. Once Filmyard takes over Miramax, it could put the films out through another distrib.
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