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Box Office Recap: How ‘Marigold’ and ‘Moonrise’ Hold Up Against Summer Indie Hits From The Past Decade

Box Office Recap: How 'Marigold' and 'Moonrise' Hold Up Against Summer Indie Hits From The Past Decade

While the $570 million-and-counting “The Avengers” has helped give Hollywood a pretty potent summer (despite major misfires like “Battleship,” “Dark Shadows,” “Rock of Ages” and “That’s My Boy”), Indiewood is not shaping up so shabby itself.  Summer just technically started today, and two films — Fox Searchlight’s “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and Focus Features’ “Moonrise Kingdom” — are already likely to end up among the the highest grossing summer indies of the past decade (or in the case of “Hotel,” already has).

Over the past ten years, the summer season (which in movie business terms, runs early May through the end of August) has usually just managed one breakout $20 million+ specialty hit. Thirteen summer specialty releases have hit that mark since 2003, with 2004 and 2006 the only years to have more than one $20 million+ grosser (2006 managed three with “Little Miss Sunshine,” “The Illusionist” and “An Inconvenient Truth”).

Whether this summer ends up joining 2006 with three $20 million hits is up to the remaining ten weeks of releases (but looks hopeful thanks to “Ruby Sparks,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “To Rome With Love”), but it’s certainly going to have two.  “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” has already passed $35 million, with a good $10-$15 million probably left in it.  “Moonrise Kingdom,” meanwhile, is still early in its expansion, but has had the best per-theater-average four weekends running and its current $6.8 million gross is likely to at least quadruple. 

The below list shows how “Marigold” and “Moonrise” (reportedly budgeted at $10 million and $16 million, respectively) hold up against the past 10 years of summer indie hits that grossed over $20 million.  The list is not adjusted for inflation, and only includes specialty films that received platform releases (openly initially on less than 500 screens). That discludes the likes of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “A Prairie Home Companion,” all specialty films that had a semi-wide initial release. In the end, it looks like 2012 could at least have 2 of the top 10 grossing summer specialty films of the past decade.

1. March of the Penguins (2005)
Distributor: Warner Independent
Final Gross: $77,437,223

2. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Final Gross: $59,891,098

3. Midnight in Paris (2011)
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Final Gross: $56,817,045

4. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Final Gross: $44,540,956

5. The Illusionist (2006)
Distributor: Yari Film Group
Final Gross: $39,868,642

6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Current Gross: $35,216,713
Estimated Final Gross: $51,000,000

7. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Final Gross: $32,391,374

8. Open Water (2004)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Final Gross: $30,610,863

9. Garden State (2004)
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Final Gross: $26,782,316

10. Sicko (2007)
Distributor: The Weinstein Company/Lionsgate
Final Gross: $24,540,079

11. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Distributor: Paramount Classics
Final Gross: $24,146,161

12. The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Distributor: Focus Features
Final Gross: $20,811,365

13. Whale Rider (2003)
Distributor: Newmarket
Final Gross: $20,779,666

??. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Distributor: Focus Features
Current Gross: $6,839,462
Estimated Final Gross: $30,000,000*

*-Considering how early “Moonrise Kingdom” is in its run, predicting this number is difficult.

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