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Indie Distributor Scorecard 2014: Who Won and Who Lost

Indie Distributor Scorecard 2014: Who Won and Who Lost

The race for box office bragging rights when it comes to indie
distributors is a lot more complex than simply naming which film has the biggest
total gross. So we’ve decided to track the ten distributors with the top
grosses in 2014 and take a closer look at whether they had a
good year, taking into consideration how many and what kind of films
they’ve released and what their numbers were like last year. Note that we only track distributors that
have primarily opened their films in limited release, and that the ten  distributors noted in that regard are the ones with the biggest share of
the overall marketplace (but again — their ranking below doesn’t
necessarily mean they’re winning).

READ MORE: The 50 Highest-Grossing Indies of 2014

1. The Weinstein Company
Overall market share: 2.1%
Total gross: $214.6 million
Movies tracked: 19
2014 movies: 15
Year-to-date comparison: Down 56.1%
Big Hits: “August: Osage County,” “Philomena,” “St. Vincent,” “The Imitation Game”
Respectable Grossers: “The Giver,” “Begin Again,” “The Railway Man”
Big Misses: “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For,” “Vampire Academy,” “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “Tracks,” “One Chance”
Overall Verdict: Losing. Despite having the highest total gross on this year, it has not been an exceptional 2014 for the Weinsteins. They were down 56% percent from last year (though admittedly 2013 was their best year ever with a $464.5 million total gross), and their only real breakout hits are leftovers from 2013 (“August: Osage County” and “Philomena”) until “St. Vincent” and “The Imitation Game” rolled around to give them a much needed end-of-year boost. “Begin Again” was notably a respectable summer breakout, but it’s not enough to make up for their many disappointments. They’ve also benefited from more initially wide releases ($44 million-grossing “The Giver”) than most distributors on this list.

2. Fox Searchlight
Overall market share: 1.4%
Total gross: $143.9 million
Movies tracked: 11
2014 movies: 8
Year-to-date comparison: Up 58%
Big Hits: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman,” “Wild,” “Belle”
Respectable Grossers: “Calvary”
Big Misses: “Dom Hemingway,” “I Origins”
Overall Verdict: Winning.
Fox Searchlight had a pretty awesome 20th anniversary year. After winning Best Picture for “12 Years a Slave” (which grossed $18.7 million of its $56.6 million total in 2014), it had the year’s biggest indie hit in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which has taken in $59.1 million. And then came “Belle,” “Birdman” and “Wild” — all hits in their own right. There have been a few stumbling blocks in “Dom Hemingway” and “I, Origins,” but overall Fox Searchlight’s 26 percent jump year-to-year is very impressive. Especially given they released only 8 new films (just under half of what The Weinsteins released).
 
3. Focus Features
Overall market share: 1.2%
Total gross: $125 million
Movies tracked: 12
2014 movies: 11
Year-to-date comparison: Up 24%
Big Hits: “The Boxtrolls,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “The Theory of Everything”
Respectable Grossers: “Bad Words”
Big Misses: “Wish I Was Here,” “The Signal,” “Walk of Shame”
Overall Verdict: Even.
While yes, Focus is up from last year, it’s down 12.9 percent and 57.2 percent from 2012 and 2010, respectively. Clearly a company in transition as it moves into its post-James Schamus era, it’s had definite success stories in the recently-released “The Theory of Everything” and “The Boxtrolls” and 2013 holdover “Dallas Buyers Club” (which took in $11.5 million this year), but it’s had many misses. Sci-fi thriller “The Signal” tanked with just $601,000, and Elizabeth Banks-starrer “Walk of Shame” grossed a disastrous $49,209. Still, it’s definitely not a disaster for Focus, and February could bring a major Valentines gift in “Fifty Shades of Grey”

READ MORE: The 50 Highest-Grossing Indies of 2014

4. Sony Pictures Classics
Overall market share: 0.4%
Total gross: $40.8 million
Movies tracked: 22
2014 movies: 15
Year-to-date comparison: Down 41.8%
Big Hits: “The Lunchbox”
Respectable Grossers: “Magic in the Moonlight,” “Foxcatcher,” “Whiplash,” “The Raid 2,” “Love is Strange,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Tim’s Vermeer”
Big Misses: “For No Good Reason”
Overall Verdict: Losing. With no “Blue Jasmine”-sized
grosser on their slate this year the company has seen tons of mid-sized
hits and no big breakouts — but they also haven’t seen many films tank
either. So we’re giving them a narrow “losing” stamp only because they are down 42% from last year and it’s hard to deny that significance. But “Foxcatcher,” “Whiplash,” “Mr. Turner” are all still going strong and could benefit from Oscar nominations, while “Still Alice” has only received a qualifying run so far… So they could be off to a strong start in 2015.

5. Roadside Attractions
Overall market share: 0.3%
Total gross: $34 million
Movies tracked: 13
2014 movies: 12
Year-to-date comparison: Down 24.2%
Big Hits: “A Most Wanted Man,” “The Skeleton Twins”
Respectable Grossers: “Dear White People,” “Gloria,” “Words and Pictures”
Big Misses: “Life of Crime,” “Joe”
Overall Verdict: Even. Roadside’s 2014 slate has largely performed within expectations, and
there’s no reason for them to feel disappointed with it despite a 24.2
percent drop from last year during this period. “A Most Wanted Man” has
hit $17.2 million, while “The Skeleton Twins” hit $5 million and “Dear White People” crossed $4 million. Yes, “Life of Crime” and “Joe”
both tanked despite the arguable star power of Jennifer Aniston and
Nicolas Cage, but they also saw Chilean import “Gloria” take in an
excellent $2.1 million despite losing out on a foreign language Oscar
nod.

6. IFC Films/Sundance Selects
Overall market share: 0.3%
Total gross: $32.4 million
Movies tracked: 41
2014 movies: 37
Year-to-date comparison: Up 203.9%
Big Hits: “Boyhood”
Respectable Grossers: “The Trip To Italy,” “Cold In July,” “Finding Vivian Maier,” “The Babadook”
Big Misses: “Jimmy P,” “Lucky Them,” “Hateship Loveship,” “Days and Nights,” “Camp X-Ray”
Overall Verdict: Winning.
IFC Films and sister distributor Sundance Selects are unique to this list in that they release way more films (37 in total), and the vast majority of them are likely to make most of their revenue on VOD. Even with that in mind, they had an incredible year — and it’s basically because of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” Now the second highest grossing film in the distributor’s history (after “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”), the film grossed $24.3 of the noted $32.4 the company has grossed entirely. That’s helped IFC and Sundance Selects jump a stunning 204% over last year.

7. CBS Films
Overall market share: 0.1%
Total gross: $14.2 million
Movies tracked: 5
2014 movies: 3
Year-to-date comparison: Down 83.6%
Big Hits: None
Respectable Grossers: “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Pride”
Big Misses: “What If,” “Afflicted”
Overall Verdict: Losing. 2014 is so far the lowest grossing year in CBS Films’ five year history, dropping off 83.6 percent from last year — which was not a great year in itself (it was down 73.8 percent from 2012). Its only moderate success stories are the $1.5 million grossing “Pride” and the holdover grosses from the Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” — but even thoses numbers are somewhat disappointing. Daniel Radcliffe’s rom-com “What If” stumbled despite good reviews, and horror film “Afflicted” full on tanked (it grossed $121,179).

8. A24
Overall market share: 0.1%
Total gross: $12.2 million
Movies tracked: 8
2014 movies: 8
Year-to-date comparison: Down 56.2%
Big Hits: “Obvious Child”
Respectable Grossers: “Under The Skin,” “Tusk”
Big Misses: “The Rover,” “Life After Beth”
Overall Verdict: Losing. A24 came out of the gate swinging last year thanks to a trio of hits in “Spring Breakers,” “The Spectacular Now” and “The Bling Ring” collectively taking in $25 million. This year’s entire slate so far hasn’t even grossed half that, though there were definitely some bright spots in “Obvious Child” and “Under The Skin.” “A Most Violent Year” wasn’t released until New Years Eve, and is likely to give A24 a nice start to 2015 this weekend, at least.

9. RADiUS-TWC
Overall market share: 0.1%
Total gross: $10.1 million
Movies tracked: 15
2014 movies: 12
Year-to-date comparison: Up 34.6%
Big Hits: “Snowpiercer,” “CITIZENFOUR,” “Fed Up”
Respectable Grossers:”The One I Love,” “The Unknown Known”
Big Misses: “Horns,” “13 Sins”
Overall Verdict: Winning. Like IFC/Sundance Selects, RADiUS-TWC gets a substantial amount of revenue from VOD, which often makes for unimpressive grosses on the theatrical side. But 2014 saw “Snowpiercer” significantly buck that trend, grossing $4.5 million in theaters in addition to being a huge hit on VOD, and big doc hits in “CITIZENFOUR” and “Fed Up.” That’s helped RADiUS jump a fantastic 34.6% over last year.

10. Music Box Films
Overall market share: 0.1%
Total gross: $7.1 million
Movies tracked: 16
2014 movies: 15
Year-to-date comparison: Up 306.8%
Big Hits: “Ida,”
Respectable Grossers: “Le Week-end,” “A Five Star Life,” “The Green Prince,” Antarctica: A Year on Ice”
Big Misses: “Fifi Howls From Happiness,” “The Last Sentence”
Overall Verdict: Winning. Even though it ranked tenth on this list due to its overall market share, Music Box Films is definitely one of the biggest winners. Thanks to Polish “Ida” ($3.7 million) and British “Le Weekend” ($2.3 million) Music Box has shown an incredible knack for bringing foreign films to America and raking in dough beyond expectation — to the tune of a 306 percent increase over last year.

READ MORE: Breaking Down the 2014 Oscar Race, Distributor by Distributor

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