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Indie Box Office Flashback: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" Debuted 10 Years Ago This Weekend

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 13, 2012 at 6:30PM

It was 10 years ago (more or less) this weekend that an indie box office monster was born.
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B.O. of the '00s: The Top Grossing Independent Films of the 2000s
A scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

It was 10 years ago (more or less) this weekend that an indie box office monster was born.

On April 19, 2002, IFC Films released Nia Vardalos' romantic comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" on 108 screens. The $5 million budgeted film would gross a strong $597,362 that first weekend, just making the overall top 20. But it was no indicaton of what was to come.

By the end of its remarkable run, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" would stay in that top 20 for 42 consecutive weekends. It would go on to gross $241.4 million in North America, making it the highest grossing romantic comedy and independent film ever. It also became among the most profitable films of all time, with a staggering 6150% return its budget. It managed all this without ever hitting the #1 spot at the domestic box office.

Though "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is the clear headline to this first edition of Indiewire's bi-weekly look back at the indie box office numbers of yore, there were a few other brightspots as well.  A fellow IFC Films release, Alfonso Cuaron's sexy Mexican import "Y Tu Mama Tambien" expanded to 241 screens in its sixth weekend and took in a fantastic $1 million. At this point it was about halfway to its rather spectacular $13.9 million total.

Notably, the following February both "Greek Wedding" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien" would receive Oscar nominations for best original screenplay.

Also in its sixth weekend was another huge indie success story, "Kissing Jessica Stein."  A decade before "Friends With Kids," Jennifer Westfeldt starred in and co-wrote "Stein," a romantic comedy about a straight woman who decides to attempt a lesbian relationship. The Fox Searchlight release had already taken in $5.1 million at this point in its release, and would go on to finish with a $7.1 million gross, almost exactly what "Friends With Kids" has taken in.

Check out the top ten specialty films over the weekend of April 19-21, 2002 below, in order of per-theater-average.  Notable is that "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" didn't even have the top average that weekend, being beaten by the likes of "Murderous Maids" and "Nine Queens."

1. Murderous Maids (Rialto)
Screens: 2
\Weeks in Release: 1
Weekend Gross: $19,922
Per-Theater-Average: $9,996
Eventual Final Gross: $225,390

2. Nine Queens (Sony Pictures Classics)
Screens: 5
Weeks in Release: 1
Weekend Gross: $40,724
Per-Theater-Average: $8,144
Eventual Final Gross: $1,222,889

3. The Cat's Meow (Lionsgate)
Screens: 11
Weeks in Release: 2
Weekend Gross: $84,317
Per-Theater-Average: $7,665
Eventual Final Gross: $3,209,481

4. Enigma (Manhattan)
Screens: 25
Weeks in Release: 1
Weekend Gross: $156,587
Per-Theater-Average: $6,263
Eventual Final Gross: $4,301,582

5. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (IFC Films)
Screens: 108
Weeks in Release: 1
Weekend Gross: $597,362
Per-Theater-Average: $5,531
Eventual Final Gross: $241,438,208

6. Girls Can't Swim (Wellspring)
Screens: 1
Weeks in Release: 1
Weekend Gross: $5,238
Per-Theater-Average: $5,238
Eventual Final Gross: $69,250

7. Y Tu Mama Tambien (IFC Films)
Screens: 241
Weeks in Release: 6
Weekend Gross: $1,000,261
Per-Theater-Average: $4,150
Eventual Final Gross: $13,839,658

8. Monsoon Wedding  (USA Films)
Screens: 189
Weeks in Release: 9
Weekend Gross: $732,688
Per-Theater-Average: $3,876
Eventual Final Gross: $13,885,966

9, The Piano Teacher (Kino)
Screens: 10
Weeks in Release: 4
Weekend Gross: $37,245
Per-Theater-Average: $3,724
Eventual Final Gross:  $1,012,069

10. Time Out (ThinkFilm)
Screens: 14
Weeks in Release: 4
Weekend Gross: $47,857
Per-Theater-Average: $3,418   
Eventual Final Gross:  $448,542

This article is related to: Box Office





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