×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Precious’ on path to indie success

Friday bow a record for limited release

This year has seen a number of indie films blossom at the worldwide box office, reminding that the major Hollywood studios don’t always have the only route to commercial success.

Lionsgate’s “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” is the latest example. The Lee Daniels-directed film smashed all records in opening to $585,000 from 18 theaters.

That’s the best gross ever for a film opening in fewer than 100 theaters. Last year, by comparison, Focus Features’ “Milk” grossed $268,487 from 34 theaters on its first Friday.

The robust domestic debut of “Precious” is good timing for Elephant Eye Films, which is repping the title at the American Film Market. A handful of territories had previously been sold, including to Icon Film Distribution in the U.K., ARP in France and Filmax in Spain.

Film, about an obese African-American girl who finds redemption through harrowing circumstances, won’t be an easy sell in certain overseas markets, but success often breeds success through word-of-mouth.

Last year’s indie blockbuster “Slumdog Millionaire” was a financial boon for international distribs taking a stake in the film. No U.S. major studio wanted the picture; in fact, Warner Bros. agreed to let Fox Searchlight release “Slumdog” domestically at the behest of director Danny Boyle.

“Slumdog” went on to gross $239.1 million internationally and $141.3 million domestically for a global haul of $377.4 million.

The micro-budgeted horror pic “Paranormal Activity” is another title that could benefit foreign distribs. The pic, almost not released by Paramount, has become the runaway hit of the hear in the U.S. relative to its cost, grossing $91.7 million domestically through Friday.

Stuart Ford’s IM Global sold “Paranormal” at last year’s AFM. Overseas, the film has only opened in Finland.

Icon Distributing, part of Stewart Till’s newly formed Icon UK Group, is releasing “Paranormal” in the U.K., where it opens in two weeks. Icon Entertainment International is the group’s international sales arm.

“I think what we’ve seen in the last 12 months — and what the theme of AFM is this year — these are difficult times, but if you have the right film, then you can enjoy success to a level as great as ever,” Till said. “The sales (agents) will fight to get it, the distributors will fight to get it, and the audiences will go in droves.”

Paramount has made it a point to note the studio retains international rights on any sequel to “Paranormal.”

Sony did snap up may of the foreign territory rights to South African sci-fi thriller “District 9,” although not all. Film is on the short list of surprise hits of 2009, grossing $115.6 million domestically and $83.8 million overseas.

Likewise, 20th Century Fox released sleeper hit “Taken” in many territories — but not all. Pic grossed $145 million for Fox domestically, and took in a total of $81.8 million overseas for a worldwide haul of $224.9 million.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Box Office Mojo new

    Box Office Mojo Site Transformed by IMDbPro

    BoxOfficeMojo.com has been transformed into an IMDbPro site, losing some of its free features. The Amazon-owned site, which had previously operated free of charge, was given a new look with its header reading “Box Office Mojo by IMDb Pro.” Information such as breakdowns by genre is now only available behind the IMDbPro paywall. The Box [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Hocus Pocus' Sequel in Development at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has launched development of a sequel to 1993’s fantasy comedy “Hocus Pocus” with “Workaholics” writer and co-producer Jen D’Angelo on board to script. The original “Hocus Pocus” starred Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as a trio of witch sisters who have been cursed since 1693 in Salem, Ma. The witches [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Wins 2019 Eppy Award for Best Digital Magazine

    Variety has won two Eppy Awards from Editor & Publisher, including Best Digital Magazine and Best Collaborative Investigative/Enterprise Feature for “American (In)Justice” — a collaboration with fellow PMC property Rolling Stone. “American (In)Justice” also tied with USA Today’s “Copy, Paste, Legislate” collaboration with The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity. Variety has provided [...]

  • Joker Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: Villains Face Off Again as 'Joker' and 'Maleficent' Battle for First Place

    Despite three new nationwide releases, domestic box office charts look to be dominated by holdovers — Warner Bros.’ “Joker” and Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” — during the last weekend in October. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted last weekend with $36 million in North America, enough to dethrone “Joker” after the super-villain origin story’s back-to-back [...]

  • Yasushi Shiina

    Tokyo Market is Finding New Strengths, Says Yasushi Shiina

    Clouds on the global economic horizon and disruption to the scheduling of the event, have done little to dampen the interest of foreign visitors to TIFFCOM, Japan’s biggest film and TV market. Especially those from China, says market head, Yasushi Shiina. The market is again running at the Sunshine City shopping, entertainment and business complex [...]

  • "Weathering With You" directed by Makoto

    Toho Unveils Dual Media Romance 'Love Me, Love Me Not' at Tokyo Market

    Japan’s biggest film company, which produces, distributes and exhibits its own product in partnership with leading media companies, Toho has brought a line-up to TIFFCOM full of present and future hits. The biggest is “Weathering with You,” the love story animation by Makoto Shinkai that surpassed the $100 million mark only a month after its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content