As the 2012 edition of SXSW gets underway in Austin, Texas, it seemed appropriate to look back at the films of last year’s edition and how well they did at the theatrical box office.
Aside from two films that had distribution prior to the festival — box office juggarnaut “Bridesmaids” and opening night film “Source Code” — the list has a considerable amount of underperformers, perhaps most notably Jodie Foster’s “The Beaver.” But there were also a couple breakouts as well, with the recently released Oscar winning doc “Undefeated” likely to become the highest grossing film acquired out of SXSW 2011.
Notably, the list includes only world premieres at the festival, and does not include unavailable numbers for VOD releases that accompanied many of the films’ theatrical releases. Also note that a few SXSW 2011 pickups — including big jury prize winner “Natural Selection” — are still waiting to be released.
The top 10 grossing films that premiered at SXSW 2011:
Gross: $169.1 million
Verdict: Clearly a huge hit beyond almost anything that typically debuts at film festivals (or sadly anything featuring all female casts) — though technically it screened at SXSW as a sneak preview “work in progress.”
2. Source Code
Gross: $54.7 million.
Verdict: Last year’s opening night film, Duncan Jones’ follow-up to “Moon” turned out to be a modest hit considering its divisive narrative and reasonable budget ($32 million).
3. Attack The Block
Distributor: Sony Screen Gems
Verdict: Winner of the audience award in last year’s Midnights program, this British alien invasion import was a disappointment considering the buzz and acclaim that surrounded it (and the fact that it was released through Sony’s Screen Gems division — becoming their lowest grossing release since Guy Ritchie’s “Swept Away”).
4. The Beaver
Verdict: One of the most anticipated films last year, Mel Gibson’s attempt at redeeming himself via this Jodie Foster-directed dramedy would go on to become one of the biggest box office duds of 2011 and the lowest grossing film to feature Gibson in a leading role ever.
Distributor: Sundance Selects
Verdict: Its theatrical numbers might not seem like much, but considering its miniscule budget (under £120,000) and the likeihood that it did even better on VOD (though numbers aren’t available), this breakout British romance from last year’s fest did respectably well.
6. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Verdict: This well-recieved look behind the scenes of Conan O’Brien’s post-“Tonight Show” comedy tour was released via a unique multi-platform distribution deal that saw Abramorama handling theatrical distribution and Magnolia Home Entertainment taking Video-on-Demand (VOD) and home entertainment rights. As far the former is concerned, the film underwhelmed, taking in just over a quarter million dollars.
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Gross: $170,440 (and counting)
Verdict: Considering the Oscar-winning football doc is about to head into its fourth weekend of release, it’s hard to call this one yet. But in all likelihood, The Weinstein Company can turn this into the highest grossing acquisition of SXSW 2011 (“Bridesmaids” and “Source Code” were both pre-acquired).
8. The Innkeepers
Verdict: Its unknown success on VOD comes into play here as well — as does the fact that film has only been out for a month — but so far, Ti West’s well-recieved horror flick hasn’t exactly ignited theatrical audiences.
9. The Other F Word
Verdict: This doc — which looks at aging punk rock musicians as they transition into parenthood — failed to take in much from theaters, grossing just over $50,000.
10. Kill List
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Verdict: The final film in the trio of acclaimed British indies that debuted at last year’s SXSW, Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List,” has managed only $26,297 in its month of release so far. Though again, Sundance Selects has also released it on VOD, where horror flicks tend to thrive.