Winner: "October Baby"
Despite a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 24%, Samuel Goldwyn released Andrew and Jon Erwin's Christian-marketed "October Baby" this March to some pretty impressive numbers. In its opening weekend, the film placed in the top 10 alongside studio films playing on five or 10 times the screens.
"Baby" -- about a college freshman who learns she is the "adopted survivor of an attempted abortion" -- was inspured by a YouTube video chronicling the experiences of real-life abortion survivor Gianna Jessen. After 2 weeks of release, it has taken in $3.1 million with a few more million where that came from. Heavily promoted in churches and other faith-based organizations, the film has already more than made up for its $1 million budget and is one of only 4 specialty films released in 2012 to cross the million mark (notably the only one without marketable stars).
Unlikely to have been promoted in too many faith-based organizations, Madonna's second directorial effort arrived to on February 3rd after nabbing a Golden Globe for best original song and an Oscar nomination for costume design. But neither the awards or Madonna's name could help it much at the box office, where distributor The Weinstein Company saw it gross $493,069 in total (its reported budget was $28.7 million). That's less than "October Baby" grossed in its first day, though notably considerably more than the $22,406 Madonna's previous filmmaking effort, "Filth and Wisdom," grossed.
Winners: "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" and "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"
Is 2012 the year of the fish? Impressive grosses care of "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (admittedly neither of which really have much to do with fish) suggest so.
The former -- directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt -- overcame mixed reviews to take in an impressive $3.1 million after four weeks of limited release. Considering it jumped 81% after its latest expansion last weekend, its suggestive the film could easily double or even triple that gross in the weeks to come.
The latter -- a look at 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono -- is the first genuine documentary hit of the year. Without going over 44 screens, the film has taken in $665,827 so far for distributor Magnolia Pictures, with the $1 million mark all but assured.
Loser: "I Kissed a Vampire"
While the latest "Twilight" film or "True Blood" season might change things, 2012 is so far not the year of the vampire, for once. Directed by Chris Nolan (no, not that Chris Nolan -- but the one arguably best known for directing a 1996 episode of "Silk Stalkings" and acting in a few episodes of 1980s teen show "You Can't Do That On Television"), Monterey Media-released "I Kissed a Vampire" follows a "goth rocker with a growing thirst for blood." On 11 screens last weekend, "Vampire" debuted just $1,380. That made for a dismal $125 per-theater-average -- the worst limited debut of 2011 so far.
Winners: "Shame," "A Dangerous Method" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Who needs Oscar nominations? Three of the most unfortunate snubs this year -- Steve McQueen's "Shame," David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" and Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" -- each did quite well without Academy approval.
Fox Searchlight's "Shame" grossed $3.9 million ($2 million of which came in 2012), making it the 7th highest grossing NC-17 rated film ever despite Oscar's woeful snubbing of its star Michael Fasesbender.
Sony Classics-released "A Dangerous Method" grossed $5.7 million, over $4 million of which came in the new year. Though considerably down from the $31 million and $17 million Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises" grossed, its still a strong number.
And finally, the Academy might have opted against Tilda Swinton, but audiences didn't. "We Need To Talk About Kevin" became the highest grossing film in distributor Oscilloscope's history, taking in $1.5 million so far (still in release, it should easily pass the $2 million mark).
Best documentary feature Oscar winner "Undefeated" did not live up to its title. The high school football doc had problems capitalizing on its big win, grossing just $426,296 so far for distributor The Weinstein Company. Still in release, it could potentially have a late-in-the-game surge, but considering its already dropping from its peak screen count of 21, it's unlikely.
For a list of the top 30 grossing specialty releases of 2012, and the best limited debuts, continue to the next page.