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The Box Office Success Stories of 5 UK Indies

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire November 9, 2011 at 9:33AM

As the British Independent Film Award nominations made clear last week, it's been a considerably strong year for independent film in the UK. From Steve McQueen's "Shame" and Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" to Paddy Considine's "Tyrannosaur" and Asif Kapadia's "Senna," British indies have perhaps even put their US counterparts to, well, shame. Especially when one considers that the UK has a population roughly one fifth of the USA. So how are they faring at their own box office?
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Andrew Haigh's "Weekend"
IFC Films Andrew Haigh's "Weekend"

As the British Independent Film Award nominations made clear last week, it's been a considerably strong year for independent film in the UK.

From Steve McQueen's "Shame" and Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" to Paddy Considine's "Tyrannosaur" and Asif Kapadia's "Senna," British indies have perhaps even put their US counterparts to, well, shame.  Especially when one considers that the UK has a population roughly one fifth of the USA.

So how are they faring at their own box office?

While "Shame" hasn't opened yet in the UK, the rest of the noted films - all nominated for the British Independent Film Awards' top prize - have indeed. As has Andrew Haigh's "Weekend," a double nominee at the awards that opened in the UK last weekend.

To varying degrees, each film has found impressive homegrown audiences. Which is particularly interesting with regard to the three among them that have yet to find their way to America: "Tinker," "Tyrannosaur" and "Kevin," all of which will be out in the US before the end of the year.

The gallery below tracks the films through last weekend.  Note that these numbers include grosses from Ireland and Malta, which are not part of the UK but are tracked as part of its grosses. All figures are also listed in US dollars, unless otherwise noted.

British Indies at the Box Office

  • PDA.
    1 of 7

    "Senna"

    Impressively nominated for a British Independent Film Award for best feature (which rarely occurs for documentary films), Asif Kapadia's racecar driver doc "Senna" was released in the UK back in June to downright stunning numbers. On just 67 screens, the film debuted at 6th place in the overall box office, grossing $616,432 US and averaging $9,200. By October, the film had grossed over $5 million - a generally unheard of number for a doc in the UK.
  • Focus Features
    2 of 7

    "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

    "Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy"
  • Strand Releasing.
    3 of 7

    "Tyrannosaur"

    Paddy Considine's "Tyrannosaur" - which stars Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman in powerhouse performances - debuted on 37 screens in the UK on October 7th. It grossed $127,290 that first weekend, averaging $3,440. Not an overwhelming number, but a respectable one nonetheless. Particularly for a difficult, grim film without marketable actors. The film has since pushed its gross to $364,460 without going over 39 screens. Considering the UK's population of roughly 60 million (a fifth of the United States), thats the equivalent of $1.8 million Stateside. A number US distributor Strand Releasing would be more than happy with when they release the film later this month.
  • IFC Films.
    4 of 7

    "Weekend"

    A month after its release the US, Andrew Haigh's "Weekend" made its way to its setting, debuting on 10 screens in the UK last Friday. The result was the second highest per-theater-average in the country (after "The Adventures of Tintin") and a $48,949 US gross. A comparison? Miranda July's "The Future" debuted on 50% more screens the same weekend, and grossed only two thirds what "Weekend" did.
  • Oscilloscope Laboratories.
    5 of 7

    "We Need To Talk About Kevin"

    On the weekend of October 21st, Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" debuted on 111 screens in the UK and managed to gross the equivalent of $785,526 US (or roughly 490,000 Pounds). That was strong enough to place it 7th in the overall weekend chart (despite the fact that all its competitors were playing on 3 or 4 times the screens), and gave it a $7,077 per-theater-average - the highest of any film in release save "Paranormal Activity." Three weeks later, the Brits are clearly still talking about "Kevin." Last weekend on 146 screens, the film grossed $273,949 US, bringing its total to $2.57 million US. Thats more than the remake of "Footloose" made in the same timeframe, for example, despite being on only a fraction of its screens. And more comparably, its more than 4 times what Swinton's "I Am Love" made its in entire run...
  • 6 of 7

    We-Need-To-Talk-About-Kevin

  • 7 of 7

    Top Ten Box Office Chart November 13

    Top Ten Box Office Chart

This article is related to: We Need To Talk About Kevin, Box Office, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tyrannosaur, Senna, Weekend





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