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by Peter Knegt
January 2, 2012 10:48 AM
10 Comments
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Here's The 30 Top-Grossing Indies of 2011, Led By Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris' (UPDATED)

Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris." Sony Pictures Classics.
Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" was the overwhelming winner at the specialty box office this year, topping this chart of 2011's top grossers with $56.3 million. That's over $20 million more than the next film on the chart - the still-climbing "Descendants" (it could surpass that total when Oscar season has come and gone) - and the highest gross ever for a Woody Allen film.

While "Paris" is just one of many success stories for Indiewood this year, overall things have taken a slight dive from 2010's big year.

While both years saw six films gross over $10 million, 2011 had only 15 $5 million grossers and 24 $3 million grossers. In 2010, those milestones were reached 19 and 31 times, respectively.

Also notable was that four of the top five films in 2011 came from the year's first half, whereas last year's list was dominated by year-end releases like "Black Swan" and "The King's Speech." While many films have been doing great these past few weeks -- notably "The Artist" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" -- there's no huge breakouts.

Indiewire will offer a full analysis of the year's winners and losers at the specialty box office thus week. Until then, here's a simple chart of the top 30 grossers.

Note that the grosses reflect numbers up to January 1, 2012. Only films both released in initially limited screen counts (under 1,000 screens) and by specialty distributors were included.

1. Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) - $56,341,186
2. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) - $39,675,000
3. The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight) - $13,303,319
4. The Conspirator (Roadside Attractions) - $11,538,204
5. Jane Eyre (Focus) - $11,242,660
6. Win Win (Fox Searchlight) - $10,179,275
7. My Week With Marilyn (The Weinstein Company) - $8,964,000
8. Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain (Codeblack) - $7,706,436
9. Sarah's Key (The Weinstein Company) - $7,693,187
10. Cedar Rapids (Fox Searchlight) - $6,861,102
11. Beginners (Focus) - $5,790,894
12. The Guard (Sony Pictures Classics) - $5,331,189
13. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Sundance Selects) - $5,256,974
14. Margin Call (Roadside Attractions) - $5,195,529
15. The Artist (The Weinstein Company) - $5,142,000
16. Biutiful (Roadside Attractions) - $5,101,237
17. Atlas Shrugged, Part I (Rocky Mountain) - $4,627,375
18. The Company Men (The Weinstein Company) - $4,441,272
19. Barney's Version (Sony Pictures Classics) - $4,439,201
20. The Way (PDA) - $4,117,802
21. Buck (Sundance Selects) - $4,038,912
22. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Focus) - $4,031,000
23. Of Gods and Men (Sony Pictures Classics) - $3,954,651
24. Like Crazy (Paramount Vantage) - $3,324,718
25. From Prada To Nada (Lionsgate) - $3,033,623
26. The Skin I Live In (Sony Pictures Classics) - $2,991,663
27. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Fox Searchlight) - $2,897,457
28. Everything Must Go (Roadside Attractions) - $2,711,643
29. The Way Back (Newmarket) - $2,701,859
30. Melancholia (Magnolia) - $2,454,418

TAGS: Box Office
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10 Comments

  • richard | January 3, 2012 6:38 PMReply

    What about Insidious? Making a film for about $1mil (and making 100x that) plus being distributed by FilmDistrict and produced by -- who knows -- seems pretty indie to me...

  • Thelonious | January 3, 2012 10:58 AMReply

    What about 'Our Idiot Brother?' Cost less than 5M and sold at Sundance to Weinstein...

  • David | January 2, 2012 9:42 AMReply

    My point was not to say that a film is independent only if it has had difficulty in securing financing though I promise you, your suggestion of poor management skills aside, you will find that the great majority of films that are not financed by a major, mini major or major independent will have had the same, similar or greater funding difficulties at each stage of production, marketing and distribution to ours. What struck me was that prior to reading Indiewire's Top 30 I read a quote by the filmmakers in Variety: "Fox Searchlight optioned the book and was ready to finance, provided the vision of the film was in line with theirs, so we figured out a way to do it." Though you are certainly entitled to your opinion I will continue to argue, and few others will disagree, that being that closely tied to a studio (or division of a studio) is not within the true spirit of independent filmmaking. Again it's a gorgeous film, brilliantly acted and directed, it was just not made independently. Source of funds, not budget, should be the determining factor. My point is that unless we want independent filmmaking to share a fate similar to the independent book store, record shop and coffee house we need to clarify the classification. Though sadly, chances are even that will do little to help.

  • c.c | January 2, 2012 12:27 AMReply

    Lets define indie film... a film produced outside of the studio system.. the descndants was produced outside the studio hollywood system. Now in my humble opinion an indie film is a film produced for no more than 5-10 million dollars. Anything more should not be considered indie because the share economics of hollywood films with enough P and A for wide releases are most often done for more money unless it does well on a roll out basis(thats limited theaters) and becomes bigger(like hurt locker).

    @David while I agree with you please bear in mind that the struggle to produce a film does not make a film an independent film. Thats just one highlighting poor management skills when producing a project. Not knowing if you have the funds to make a film two days before shooting is not something other producers want to strive for especially with all the stuff they have to endure once you start shooting. I would keep that and everthing else to yourself. You did the film and quite frankly no one will ask you how it got done and the only thing that matters is whats on the screen..The struggle is what you share with those who went through with it with you. As a producer you should always have a plan as opposed to worring if things will work out or not. I am with you 100 percent to support the independent companies though ..since I cannot take hollywood films.

  • Crafty St. James | January 1, 2012 1:27 AMReply

    I just want to mirror Davids opinion below. It's BS! Because The Descendants had a limited release, it an Indie? Really? Great film. Loved it. This is not about the film but the classification of it. This has to to be straightened out. We need to get together and come up with something.

  • David | December 31, 2011 2:20 PMReply

    The Descendants is about as Indie as Avatar. I don't want to take anything away from the film's success but I struggle to understand how it can be classified as Independent. In what way is it Independent? What is it independent from? Or are we simply calling any film that plays in art house theaters Independent these days. In my opinion, to be genuinely independent a film's future has to be a least somewhat uncertain. I happened to have produced one of the films on the list and two days before principal photography we were not sure we would have the funding, we put it together in the final hour, the day before we screened the film at the Toronto Film Festival we didn't know if we would find a distributor, several weeks later we found one, two months before releasing the film we still hadn't closed our p&a funding, we ultimately did. I think The Descendants is a lovely film and it deserves all the accolades it's receiving at the moment. I think Alex and George are incredibly talented and I continue to cheer them and the film on. But their film was not made independently, lets not give it that too for to do so would be enormously unfair to the filmmakers/angel investors out there, many on this list, that are truly taking risks and making films not knowing if they will ever finish getting made or distributed. Was Fox ever not going to let the film get made or distributed? I seriously doubt it and therefore it should, and other films with similar backing should, be classified differently. Independent filmmaking is in serious trouble. If we don't want it to go away forever we better start being honest with each other and support the independent companies and individuals that are out there fighting against near impossible economics to produce films without the backing of the studio system.

  • Skippy | December 30, 2011 3:09 PMReply

    Does this include VOD earnings? I'm guessing not.

  • Sean | December 30, 2011 1:54 PMReply

    The indie box office story of 2011 has to be Kevin Hart's "Laugh at My Pain". Finishes #8 even though the release was limited to AMC Theaters and never more than 200 screens. Incredible.

  • Peter Knegt | December 30, 2011 1:49 PMReply

    @David Schisgall: Only films both released in initially limited screen counts (under 1,000 screens) and by specialty distributors were included. Thus "Our Idiot Brother" - as well as "50/50," "Drive," "The Debt" and others, were not included as they all had wide releases.

  • David Schisgall | December 30, 2011 12:52 PMReply

    you left off "Our Idiot Brother"