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The 5 Biggest Disappointments at the 2012 Specialty Box Office

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 4, 2013 at 10:55AM

There were indeed a lot of good news to come out of the 2012 indie box office, as yesterday's article on the year's 10 biggest specialty market success stories can attest. But it wasn't all roses and dollar signs, as these 5 major specialty disappointments make clear:
"Lola Versus"
Fox Searchlight "Lola Versus"

3. Fox Searchlight's romantic comedies about young people.
Sure, Fox Searchlight had the biggest specialty hit of the year in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," arguably a romantic comedy inarguably about old people. But the distributors two attempts at romantic comedies about young people didn't go over so well. First there was Greta Gerwig vehicle "Lola Versus," which grossed just $252,603 to become Searchlight's lowest grossing film of the year. Then there was "Ruby Sparks," Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's follow-up to "Little Miss Sunshine" (a huge Searchlight hit). "Ruby" faired much better than "Lola," but considering expectations were far higher it was just as disappointing. It ended up with a $2,540,106 total - less that what "Sunshine" made in its ninth weekend alone.

4. Indies about vampires and werewolves.
The final "Twilight" film may have managed nearly $300 million at the box office, but vampires and werewolves certainly weren't turkey-proof plotlines, especially in the specialty market. And we're talking serious turkies. The total grosses of "Vamps" ($3,361) "The Moth Diaries" ($3,838), "I Kissed a Vampire" ($1,794) and "Jack and Diane" ($1,142) don't even add up to $10,000. And they make the grosses for Korean import "A Werewolf Boy" ($328,231 since opening at the end of November) look downright "Twilight"-esque.  Note that "Vamps," "Diaries" and "Diane" all received considerable VOD releases as well... Here's hoping the revenue from that (which is not made public) had a bit more bite.

"The Master."
"The Master."

5. "The Master"
On the one hand, a $15 million gross for a divisive, challenging, 2 1/2 hour indie is no disaster. It's perhaps quite admirable, and makes "The Master" one of the 10 highest grossing specialty films of 2012. On the other hand, it cost $35 million to make, was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, whose following led "There Will Be Blood" to a $40 million gross. It also failed to live up to its remarkable limited average of $147,262 per its 5 theaters -- the all-time record for a live action film. But then the Weinstein Company decided to push it to 788 screens in its second weekend, and it burned out very quickly, with a total now standing at $15,956,662. The only other live action film to open to an average of over $80,000 and fail to at least gross $40 million was last year's "The Tree of Life." But at least The Weinstein Company was also very well represented on the "winners" article that ran yesterday.

This article is related to: The Paperboy, Box Office, On The Road, Cosmopolis, Vamps, The Master, Atlas Shrugged: Part 2


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