The 20 Highest Grossing Indies of 2015 (A Running List)

The 20 Highest Grossing Indies of 2015 (A Running List)

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It’s official. After opening way back in April, the Helen Mirren-starring historical drama “Woman in Gold” has topped out as the year’s best indie performer, pulling in over $33 million for The Weinstein Company during its long run at the box office. “Woman in Gold” isn’t just a standout because of its prodigious domination of the indie list, but because of its unique road to the box office: A spring opener that premiered in February at Berlin — skipping both TIFF and Sundance in the process — before opening in the U.S. mere weeks later. 

“Woman in Gold” is trailed by the well-reviewed “Ex Machina,” which used solid word of mouth and a large expansion (eventually topping out at 2,004 theaters) to grab the second place spot, along with Best Picture frontrunner “Spotlight,” the charming “Brooklyn,” surprise performer “Mr. Holmes” and the well-regarded documentary “Amy.” And one last late entry? “The Hateful Eight,” which sneaks into our last spot after mere days in limited release.

Other festival favorites and Oscar holdovers have stayed strong over the course of the year, however, including “Still Alice,” “It Follows,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and “Love & Mercy,” but it remains to be seen how much box office success translates to awards season glory. 

Please note: The below list only includes North American (domestic) grosses for specialty films — indie, foreign and/or documentary — that opened in limited release (initially under 500 screens) in 2015 and were released by an independent distributor or a studio’s specialty division (i.e. Sony Pictures Classics or Fox Searchlight). It also includes films that screened only as an Academy-qualifier in 2014 (“Still Alice,” “Wild Tales,” “Cake”). Grosses include all reported grosses up to December 29, 2015. This chart is updated every Tuesday evening. (An earlier version of this list can be found here.)

1. Woman in Gold
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: April 1st
Opening Theater Count: 258
Opening Average: $8,107
Current Gross: $33,307,195

2. Ex Machina
Distributor: A24
Release Date: April 10th
Opening Theater Count: 4
Opening Average: $59,316
Current Gross: $25,442,958

3. Spotlight
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: November 16th
Opening Theater Count: 5
Opening Average: $59,002
Current Gross: $24,889,059

4. Still Alice
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: January 16th
Opening Theater Count: 12
Opening Average: $16,417
Current Gross: $18,754,371

5. Brooklyn
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: November 4th
Opening Theater Count: 5
Opening Average: $37,456
Current Gross: $18,407,589

6. Mr. Holmes
Distributor: Miramax/Roadside Attractions
Release Date: July 17th
Opening Theater Count: 361
Opening Average: $6,745
Current Gross: $17,737,646

7. It Follows
Distributor: RADIUS-TWC
Release Date: March 13th
Opening Theater Count: 4
Opening Average: $40,022
Current Gross: $14,674,076

8. Love & Mercy
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: June 6th
Opening Theater Count: 481
Opening Average: $4,412
Current Gross: $12,551,031

9. Far From the Madding Crowd
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: May 1st
Opening Theater Count: 10
Opening Average: $16.499
Current Gross: $12,236,500

10. Amy
Distributor: A24
Release Date: July 3rd
Opening Theater Count: 6
Opening Average: $37,083
Current Gross: $8,407,637

11. Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Distributor: Eros
Release Date: July 17th
Opening Theater Count: 257
Opening Average: $10,200
Current Gross: $8,178,001

12. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’
Distributor: FUNimation Films
Release Date: August 4th
Opening Theater Count: 183
Opening Average: $9,934
Current Gross: $8,008,363
13. While We’re Young
Distributor: A24
Release Date: March 27th
Opening Theater Count: 4
Opening Average: $56,922
Current Gross: $7,587,485

14. I’ll See You in My Dreams
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Release Date: May 15th
Opening Theater Count: 3
Opening Average: $17,364
Current Gross: $7,449,681

15. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: June 12th
Opening Theater Count: 15
Opening Average: $13,100
Current Gross: $6,758,416

16. Baahubali: The Beginning
Distributor: Blue Sky Cinema
Release Date: July 9th
Opening Theater Count: 236
Opening Average: $15,148
Current Gross: $6,738,000

17. Trumbo
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Release Date: November 6th
Opening Theater Count: 5
Opening Average: $14,835
Current Gross: $6,702,102

18. Danny Collins
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Release Date: March 20th
Opening Theater Count: 5
Opening Average: $14,492
Current Gross: $5,637,066

19. Room
Distributor: A24
Release Date: October 16th
Opening Theater Count: 4
Opening Average: $29,575
Current Gross: $4,758,422

20. The Hateful Eight
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: December 25th
Opening Theater Count: 100
Opening Average: $46,107
Current Gross: $4,610,676

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Comments

Farhan

Add your voice to the conversation…Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Baahubali are blockbuster and made by self financing studios.

jit

Why no Sicario in the list?

Jack

Also, like others have said, some of these are clearly not indies. A film starting out with a limited or platform release does not make it an indie.

Jack

The budget is crucial to know which films actually made a profit and if so, how successful they were.

I hope this list includes indies like Carol and Brooklyn which have done very well at the box office in their respective runs.

Bob

Shouldn’t "The Visit" be on here as well??

Selma

A lot of these films are not even "indie" films.

James Smith

AB is correct. "Dope" out grossed 12 of the films on this list.

Nikki

What’s the reasoning for leaving off DOPE which made $17,506,470?

Miguel Valdez-Lopez

These amounts are just domestic, right?

awardsgeek

Dope opened wide in 2000 theaters – criteria for the list is movies that opened in limited release (under 500 theaters)

Adam

A Walk in the Woods? Grandma? Missing a few here

TRACY LYNCH BRITTON

I can’t tell you how much i LOVED WAHT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS!!!!! ABSOLUTLEY BRILLIANTLY FUNNY, ORIGINAL AND WELL MADE!

jeff

cool

Chris

The criteria makes little sense. Why is Woman in Gold from Weinstein, which played on 2000 screens, an "indie" but not Southpaw or Paddington, also Weinstein releases? Allowing films that do a first week "word of mouth" release to get on the list makes identification of an indie a bit misleading. I mean, American Sniper started with a limited release, too. Is Woman in Gold, with Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, really more "indie" than The Duff or Dope? I don’t think so. Given that budget figures are difficult to obtain or confirm, I’d think a better and simpler criteria would be just including films that never play on more than 500 screens in any one weekend and making it a list of truly limited release films.

Jay

Word. Need estimated budgets for this to be compelling.

Okay?

The rules are literally include in this list. Why does no one get that? "Please note: The below list only includes North American grosses for specialty films — indie, foreign and/or documentary — that opened in limited release (initially under 500 screens) in 2015 and were released by an independent distributor or a studio specialty division. It also includes films that screened only as an Academy-qualifier in 2014 ("Still Alice," "Wild Tales," "Cake"). Grosses include all reported grosses up to August 25, 2015. This chart is updated every Tuesday evening. (An earlier version of this list can be found here.)"

Sammo b

What are your rules that make an indie film? Drive cost 20 m and was classed as Indie, the water diviner cost 100+ m to make where does this stop?

FYI

Re: Dope — the film opened in over 2k theaters, taking it out of contention for this list (as indicated by the perimeters listed above). Re: Mommy — that film opened in 2014. Re: the Eros and Blue Sky titles — again, part of the listed perimeters includes FOREIGN films that open in LIMITED release.

Souvik Das Sengupta

it is very surprising to find out that Two indian movies ( Baahubali and bajrangi bhaijaan) has been termes as independent films. But the thing is these two films are at all independent in any aspect, these are the products of the two biggest production houses of India i.e DHARMA PRODUCTIONS and SALMAN KHAN PRODUCTIONS/ROCKLINE VENKATESH.

Ishmael

Xavior Dolan’s film, Mommy, also made around 3.3 million, domestically (over 3 million alone in Canada which is oddly included with the U.S.)

Satya

how can you call bahubali, bajrangi bhaijaan and dil dhakane do indies?

AB

Thanks for the list. But Dope’s BO take should be listed as well, no? It was pushing past $14m?

m.k.

Can you tell us what the Indie films budget were?

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