James Franco in "Spring Breakers"
Winner: "Spring Breakers"
Other than "Quartet," the only considerable breakout success story among 2013 releases so far was Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers." And it's a doozy. Released by upstart distributor A24 while most of America was on actual spring break, the R-rated teen culture satire (which stars Disney Channel alums Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens doing some very un-Disney things, no less) grossed a stunning $263,002 from just 4 theaters in its first weekend. That made for a $87,667 average -- among the 12 best per-theater-averages of all time for live action films. A24 expanded it to 1,104 theaters in its second frame, and it jumped to 6th place overall, grossing $4.9 million. Not bad at all for a film reported to have cost just $5 million. After 3 weekends, the film's total stands at $10.1 million, and in the end it should come close to doubling that.
Loser: "A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III"
"Spring Breakers" was the second release from A24, and was thankfully successful enough to erase most memories of Roman Coppola's "A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III," which A24 released back in February. Despite the Coppola name and the presence of Bill Murray and Charlie Sheen, it grossed just $45,350 in its run. Which is pretty much what "Spring Breakers" was grossing every couple hours in its first weekend.
Winner: Sony Pictures Classics' late-breaking Oscar contenders
The Weinstein Company wasn't the only independent distributor to reap the benefits of Oscar season. Sony Pictures Classics got fantastic numbers out of a trio of Oscar nominees released either at the tail end of 2012 or in 2013 proper. The MVP of which was clearly Michael Haneke's "Amour," which surprised many with 5 major Oscar nominations. That helped give it a $6.7 million final gross ($6.4 million of which came in 2013). While that might seem miniscule compared to the $100 million+ grosses of its fellow best picture nominees, the fact that a foreign language film essentially about death could pull off those numbers is definitely considerable. It's now one of the 50 highest grossing foreign language films of all time and by far Haneke's top grossing film in America. And the buck didn't stop there for SPC. "No" and "The Gatekeepers" -- nominated for foreign film and documentary, respectively -- both opened in February and are still in the midst of impressive runs. "No" has taken in $1.3 million so far, while "Gatekeepers" is at $1.8 million. Neither film are easy sells, but SPC's careful handling of each buoyed by those Oscar noms brought moviegoers in anyway.
Loser: "West of Memphis"
Clearly a film Sony Classics was hoping would get a best documentary nomination, Amy Berg's "West of Memphis" -- produced by Peter Jackson and gaining buzz on the festival circuit for nearly a year -- didn't end up making the cut. It didn't end up making much money either, grossing just under $300,000