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Cannes 2012 Box Office Led by ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ Will Strong Fest Sales Repeat in 2013?

Cannes 2012 Box Office Led by 'Moonrise Kingdom,' Will Strong Fest Sales Repeat in 2013?

The Cannes 2012 box office results were up, particularly among the Palme d’Or contenders, led by Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” released by Focus Features to $46 million in North America. Those released so far have garnered a theatrical gross of about $119 million, compared to $102 million for the previous year, which included Oscar Best Picture winner “The Artist.” (To keep this in perspective, those totals fall far short of what “Iron Man 3” grossed in its first weekend in the U.S./Canada.)

With several titles still to be released and others still in play, the ultimate total could approach $130 million, a solid increase. (These totals exclude both “Madagascar 3” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” whose inclusion in the festival had more to do with European marketing launches than the specialized world; both grossed more in the U.S. than all the other films screened in their years combined).

Led by a recent year (and possibly all time) record of 21 of 22 official
competition films gaining U.S. distribution (including some yet to
play), 2012’s Cannes line-up (from all sections) shows 58 total — much
above average — out of 100 titles that were presented ending up with
domestic rights acquired, most of them after their festival showings.

Why this increase in business? It likely comes from the demand for product due to expanding platforms, particularly Video on Demand and other live streaming venues, some of which pursue more obscure and/or non-English language films that normally don’t play in the traditional theatrical-first release pattern.

An overview of each section shows that the success rate beyond competition was spotty at best. Only one film that was acquired at the festival or after has grossed over $2 million so far (a second is approaching that level). Again, this only reflects reported revenues from theaters.

Many films are acquired for a minimal level (sometimes for only a marketing and release commitment), or are expected to make most of their revenues from non-theatrical sources, so the in-theater gross doesn’t indicate the final word on the success in many cases. Still, a review of each section could give hints as to where the gold might be in this year’s acquisitions hunt.


Released (Title/distributor/US-Canada theatrical gross to date – * indicates still in theaters):

      “Moonrise Kingdom” (Focus) – $45,912,000

      “Lawless” (Weinstein) – $37,400,000

      “Killing Them Softly” (Weinstein) – $15,026,000

      “Mud” (Roadside Attractions) – $8,363,000 *

      “Amour” (Sony Pictures Classics) – $6,737,000

      “Rust and Bone” (Sony Pictures Classics) – $2,197,000

      “Cosmopolis” (EOne) – $764,000

      “On the Road” (IFC) – $718,000

      “The Paperboy” (Millennium) – $693,000

      “Holy Motors” (Indomina) – $641,000

      “Like Someone in Love” (IFC) – $223,000

      “Angels’ Share” (IFC) – $180,000 *

      “Beyond the Hills” (IFC) – $110,000

      “Reality” (Oscilloscope) – $70,000

      “In Another Country” (Kino Lorber) – $25,000

      “Paradise: Love” (Strand) – $20,000 *

      “Post Tenebras Lux” (Strand) – $12,000 *

      “The Taste of Money” (IFC) – (no gross reported)

Not yet released:

     “The Hunt” (Magnolia, for which Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor from the Jury), Alain Resnais’ “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Kino Lorber) and “In the Fog” (Strand).

Not acquired:

The sole competition film not to get a distributor was “After the Battle” from Egypt.

As happens in many years, the top-grossing films among these were either produced or acquired by the distributor prior to the festival. The top acquisition — “Mud” — actually didn’t finalize its deal with Roadside Attraction (in a co-venture with Lionsgate) until just before its showing at Toronto months later. The rest of the films acquired after their Cannes showings have fallen short of the $1 million mark so far.

Overall, though, the success rate, at least in terms of gross, went up. Four (including projected final figures for the just-released “Mud”) will surpass the $10 million mark, five above $5 million, six above $2 million, all of which are ahead of the last two years. Curiously, among these, only “Amour” (last year’s top jury winner) received any jury recognition (as well as, along with “Moonrise Kingdom,” the only one to get Oscar nominated).

Weinstein played off both “The Lawless” and “Killing Them Softly” as commercial, wide-release films outside of significant awards focus, with the former having a solid Labor Day run, while despite the presence of Brad Pitt, due to its costs the latter was one of last year’s biggest flops. IFC opened “On the Road” as an Oscar qualifier, but then put its later general run alongside a Video on Demand platform. The divisive “Holy Motors” (which ranked among the top 2012 films among critics) had a respectable showing considering its low marketing budget, but Indomina has since backed away from hands-on distribution. “Cosmopolis” and “The Paperboy” grossed significantly below their directors’ previous efforts.

The biggest disappointment in the bunch was “Reality,” from Matteo Garrone. His previous film “Gomorrah” had grossed $1.6 million. “Reality” seemed just as commercial, opened with solid reviews and support, yet disappeared virtually without a trace in its limited U.S. release. Italian films for decades rivaled those from France for appeal in the foreign language market. Its failure likely looms larger than the successes among those companies still interested in mainstream international films for the U.S. market.



      “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (Paramount) – $216,391,000

      “The Sapphires” (Weinstein) – $1,830,000 *

      “The Central Park Five” (IFC) – $326,000

      “Trashed” (self-distributed) – (no gross reported)

      “Hemingway and Gellhorn” (HBO) – cable

Not yet released:

Still to come: closing night film “Therese Desqueyroux” comes out this summer from MPI, Strand has two special screening documentaries (“Mekong Hotel” and “Polluting Paradise”), Weinstein acquired another documentary, “The Oath of Tobruk,” and IFC has two midnight films, Dario Argento’s “Dracula 3D” and “Maniac.”

In recent years, the biggest hit to show at Cannes is often a film timed to launch its wide international release. Warner Bros. hopes this year’s “The Great Gatsby”will be a massive world-wide hit, much like “The Da Vinci Code,” “Up,” “Robin Hood” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Madagascar 3” before it. “Madagascar 3″‘s foreign take was nearly 2.5 times bigger ($526 million to domestic $216), so Cannes attention can really pay off.

One film not acquired was Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Me and You,” which joins Francis Ford Coppola’s “Twixt” (which premiered at Toronto 2011) as another once-pursued master director’s film which has yet to nab U.S. exposure.



      Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Fox Searchlight) – $12,796,000

      “Renoir” (Goldwyn) – $1,141,000 *

      “Gimme the Loot” (IFC) – $95,000

      “The Pirogue” (ArtMattan) – (no gross reported)

      “Antiviral” (IFC) – (no gross reported)

Not yet released:

“Confessions of a Child of the Century” (Cohen Media), “Laurence Anyways” (Breaking Glass),  “The DC Beach” (ArtMattan), “Student” (Global Film Initiative), “Three Worlds” (Film Movement), “White Elephant” (Strand).

This section, generally regarded as only slightly below competition in importance, has not produced many significant specialized films in recent years, and those that it has have often premiered elsewhere (such as last year’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and the lower-grossing “Gimme the Loot”). “Renoir” turned out to be a pleasant surprise for Goldwyn, and several other films still await release. This year marks the premiere of Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” already set for June release by A24, as well as Ryan Coogler’s Sundance hit “Fruitvale Station,” with the remaining films up for acquisition. Nine films from last year remained unacquired out of 20 total.



      “No” (Sony Pictures Classics) – $2,213,000 *

      “Room 237” (IFC) – $254,000 *

      “The We and I” (Paladin) – $40,000

      “Night Across the Street” (Cinema Guild) – $14,000

      “Clandestine Childhood” (Film Movement) – $9,000

      “Sightseers” (IFC) – $8,000 *

      “Dangerous Liaisons” (Well Go) – (no gross reported)

Not yet released:

“Ernest and Celestine” (GKids), “Alyah” (Film Movement), “La Sirga” (Film Movement).

“No” has become one of the more successful films acquired out of this section in recent years. Released just before the Oscars (where it was a Foreign Language Film nominee), it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics during the festival, and at this point has the highest gross of any film for which a deal was made during rather than after Cannes.

IFC opens “Sightseers” this week, and “Ernest and Celestine” could end up as an animated success. Just shown at the San Francisco Film Festival, it could end up as an awards contender later this year.

11 of the 21 films in the section have not been acquired.



“Aqui y alla” (Torch) – (no grosses reported)

Not yet released:

“Augustine” (Music Box) and “Broken” (Film Movement)

This section focuses on mainly first-time directors of lesser commercial appeal (other than the occasional post-Sundance film such as “Take Shelter” two years ago), so the lack of significant impact so far isn’t unusual. Seven of the other ten films haven’t been acquired. IFC is screening Sundance hit “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” in this section.


Cannes Classics show
film-related documentaries, two of which, “Jerry Lewis: A Method to His
Madness” and “Woody Allen: A Documentary,” have received U.S. television
play. Two films shown in CineFondation (student features along with
shorts) and one in Cannes Jr. (children’s section, where Patrice
Leconte, veteran French director’s “The Suicide Shop” premiered) have
not gotten American play.



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