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Summer Indie Box Office Preview: The 15 Films With The Most Breakout Potential

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 7, 2013 at 10:20AM

"Iron Man 3" kicked the summer movie season off to a very lucrative start this past weekend, grossing $175 million in just three days to find the second biggest opening weekend of all time. Comparatively, the first weekend of the indie box office's summer didn't have much on "Iron Man" (though a different man -- "The Iceman" -- had a nice debut). But that's clearly not the expectation. Grossing $10 million for an indie is essentially like grossing $100 million for a studio tentpole.

Girl Most Likely (July 19)

Director: Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman
Cast: Kristin Wiig, Annette Bening, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Box Office Outlook: Reviews for the mother-daughter film formerly known as "Imogene" are likely to be as mixed upon release as they were at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, but that's unlikely to be too much of a problem with Kristin Wiig and Annette Bening involved. Our bet is a healthy gross north of $7 million is the most likely scenario for "Girl." It's also one of many films on this list offering options for women (who have very few studio films directed at them), which could help it go beyond that.

Austenland (August 16)

Director: Jerusha Hess
Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Box Office Outlook: Another film aimed at the under-considered female audience, Jerusha Hess's "Austenland" will likely have much better buzz than "Girl Most Likely" (it got strong reviews when it debuted at Sundance), but also less star power (we love us some Keri Russell, but she's no Kristin Wiig). Though Hess -- who co-wrote "Napoleon Dynamite" with her husband Jared Hess, who directed both -- is no stranger to summer indie breakouts, and neither is Russell for that matter (she starred in the $19 million grossing "Waitress," which came out in the summer of 2007). Our bet is a cautious $7 million, but watch out for this one.

I'm So Excited (June 28)

Director: Pedro Almodovar
Cast:  Javier Cámara, Cecilia Roth, Lola Dueñas, Raúl Arévalo, Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Box Office Outlook: As far as foreign language directors in America go, Pedro Almodovar is about as consistent draw as they come, with 5 of his last 6 films grossing over $5 million Stateside (his last "The Skin I Live In," grossed a still-respectable $3.2 million). Every single one of those films came out in October or November, making his latest, "I'm So Excited," something of a anomaly. Being one of his most comedic films should help it fit the season, as should the presence of Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas in the trailer (even though they are basically cameos in the film). Our bet is $5 million, which should be enough to get Sony Classics excited.

Frances Ha (May 17)

Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
Distributor: IFC Films

Box Office Outlook: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's "Girls"-esque collaboration "Frances Ha" is sure to be one of the summer's best reviewed indies (it debuted out of the festival circuit last fall with stellar notices). Though even with the added presence of box office draw Ben Stiller, the last Baumbach-Gerwig teaming, "Greenberg," only managed $4.3 million. Our bet is that even with no Stiller, buzz helps "Frances" ha her way to at least $5 million, an excellent number for a black-and-white film with a tiny budget.

Stories We Tell (May 17)

Director: Sarah Polley
Distributor: Roadside Attractions

Box Office Outlook: One of the most acclaimed films from this past fall's festival circuit, Sarah Polley's deeply personal documentary about her own family is perhaps the summer's best bet for a documentary breakout. Likely to come with universal acclaim and boosted by Polley's fanbase, our bet is that "Stories" will slowly-but-surely managed $3 million over the summer.

The Kings of Summer (May 31)

Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie
Distributor: CBS Films

Box Office Outlook: Yet another film to get a title do-over after its festival debut, "The Kings of Summer" -- or the film formerly known as "Toy's House" -- offers a Walden-like adventure of three teenage friends (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias) who decided to spend their summer building a house in the woods and live off the land, without. CBS Films is releasing the film in late May, and while it's unlikely to be the king of the indie summer box office, our bet is good reviews and its coming-of-age premise help it manage $3 million.

In a World...  (August 9)

Director: Lake Bell
Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed, Tig Notaro
Distributor: Roadside Attractions

Box Office Outlook: Lake Bell isn't quite a box office draw, even by indie standards (yet), but her directorial debut (which she also wrote and stars in) is coming off a very well received Sundance debut (Bell won the festival's screenwriting award), and should be a minor hit that makes for a nice stepping stone for the woman behind it. Our bet? $3 million

This article is related to: Box Office, Summer, Before Midnight, Only God Forgives, Fruitvale Station, Much Ado About Nothing

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