Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Peter Knegt
November 6, 2009 4:12 AM
3 Comments
  • |

B.O. of the '00s: The Top Grossing Sundance Films

A scene from Jared Hess's "Napoleon Dynamite." Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

With the 2010s fast approaching - 55 days and counting - indieWIRE has decided to start a weekly Friday chart devoted to glancing back at the past ten years. With a film opening that weekend as a starting point, we'll be charting various sub-categories of 2000s film with regard to their North American box office. This week, with Lee Daniels's "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" opening in 18 theaters today, in what has to be one of the more curious releases this year in terms of how it might perform at the box office, we figured we'd begin with where "Precious" started things off: Sundance. Below are lists of the top grossing winners of the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Narrative (which "Precious" won in addition to the audience award), and the top grossing films that simply competed for that prize (which is an impressive batch of films).

It's a somewhat surprising list in that of the ten winners, only two - Kenneth Lonergan's "You Can Count on Me" and Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's "American Splendor" -managed to gross over $5 million, and half the list didn't even manage $1 million. For "Precious" to become the top grossing Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner of this decade seems all but assured. If it doesn't, it would be a tremendous disappointment (though here we go setting up expectations again).

As for the second list, things are considerably more robust. Many of those who lost out on the U.S. Narrative Competition's top prize did not lose out at the box office, with films like Jared Hess's "Napoleon Dynamite," Todd Field's "In The Bedroom," Zach Braff's "Garden State" and Christopher Nolan's "Memento" grossing over $25 million. Though interestingly, 18 of the top 20 (save "Sunshine Cleaning" and "Choke") come from the first half of this decade. While "Precious" seems likely to decrease that imbalance by 1, that still speaks loudly to how much the indie box office has suffered during the latter years of the 2000s.

The poster for Kenneth Lonergan's "You Can Count On Me."

Top Grossing Sundance Narrative Grand Jury Prize Winners

1. You Can Count On Me | 2000* | $9,183,362
2. American Splendor | 2003 | $6,010,990
3. Frozen River | 2008 | $2,511,476
4. Quinceañera | 2006 | $1,692,693
5. Girlfight | 2000* | $1,565,852
6. Personal Velocity | 2002 | $811,299
7. Primer | 2004 | $424,760
8. The Believer | 2001 | $416,925
9. Forty Shades of Blue | 2005 | $75,828
10. Sangre de mi sangre | 2007 | $55,730

*There was a tie for the prize in 2000

Top Grossing Films in Sundance U.S. Narrative Competition

1. Napoleon Dynamite | 2004 | $44,540,956
2. In The Bedroom | 2001 | $35,930,604
3. Garden State | 2004 | $26,782,316
4. Memento | 2000 | $25,544,867
5. Hustle & Flow | 2005 | $22,202,809
6. Sunshine Cleaning | 2008 | $12,062,558
7. You Can Count On Me | 2000 | $9,183,362
8. The Deep End | 2001 | $8,823,109
9. The Cooler | 2003 | $8,291,572
10. The Squid and the Whale | 2005 | $7,372,734
11. Maria Full of Grace | 2004 | $6,529,624
12. American Splendor | 2003 | $6,010,990
13. The Station Agent | 2003 | $5,739,376
14. Thirteen | 2003 | $4,601,043
15. Secretary | 2002 | $4,059,680
16. Me and You and Everyone We Know | 2005 | $3,885,134
17. Better Luck Tomorrow | 2002 | $3,802,390
18. Hedwig and the Angry Inch | 2001 | $3,067,312
19. Choke | 2008 | $2,926,565
20. Tadpole | 2002 | $2,891,288


You might also like:

3 Comments

  • Andrew@RiverRun | November 10, 2009 5:38 AMReply

    Not sure if the year you listed for "Memento" was intentional or accidental -- because it IS a film from 2000, as that's when it premiered at Venice -- but it didn't play Sundance till 2001.

  • documentarydiva | November 7, 2009 1:06 AMReply

    Where are the figures for the documentaries?

    Betsy McLane

  • ben77 | November 6, 2009 7:51 AMReply

    This is a really fun idea. And the early 2000s/late 2000s imbalance is a fascinating little tidbit.