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Indie Distributor Scorecard 2014: Who’s Up and Who’s Down?

Indie Distributor Scorecard 2014: Who's Up and Who's Down?

The race for box office bragging rights when it comes to indie distributors is a lot more complex than simply which one has the biggest total gross. So we’ve decided to track the 10 distributors with the top grosses so far in 2014 and take a closer look at whether they are having a good year, taking into consideration how many and what kind of films they’ve released, what their numbers were like last year, and what films they have left on the docket. Note that we only track distributors that have primarily opened their films in limited release, and that the 10 distributors noted in that regard are the ones with the biggest share of the overall marketplace (but again — their ranking below doesn’t necessarily mean they’re winning).

1. The Weinstein Company
Overall market share: 1.9%
Total gross: $160.7 million
Movies tracked: 17
2014 movies: 13
Year-to-date comparison: Down 65.6%
Big Hits: “August: Osage County,” “Philomena,” “St. Vincent”
Respectable Grossers: “The Giver,” “Begin Again,” “The Railway Man”
Big Misses: “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For,” “Vampire Academy,” “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “Tracks”
Overall Verdict: Losing. Despite having the highest total gross on this year, it has not been a very good 2014 for the Weinsteins. Year-to-year they are down over 65 percent (though admittedly 2013 was their best year ever with a $464.5 million total gross), and their only real breakout hits are leftovers from 2013 (“August: Osage County” and “Philomena”). “Begin Again” was a respectable summer breakout, but it’s not enough to make up for their many disappointments. They’ve also benefited from more initially wide releases ($44 million-grossing “The Giver”) than most distributors on this list. It’s really up to “St. Vincent” (currently off to a good start) “The Imitation Game” and “Big Eyes” to improve the company’s situation, but overall it’s unlikely TWC will see anything remotely close to the success they had in 2013 .

2. Fox Searchlight
Overall market share: 1.3%
Total gross: $105.8 million
Movies tracked: 10
2014 movies: 7
Year-to-date comparison: Up 58%
Big Hits: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Belle”
Respectable Grossers: “Calvary”
Big Misses: “Dom Hemingway,” “I Origins”
Overall Verdict: Winning.
Fox Searchlight is having a pretty awesome 20th anniversary year. After winning Best Picture for “12 Years a Slave” (which grossed $18.7 million of its $56.6 million total in 2014), it had the year’s biggest indie hit in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which has taken in $59.1 million so far. There have been a few stumbling blocks in “Dom Hemingway” and “I, Origins,” but overall Fox Searchlight’s 58 percent jump year-to-year is very impressive. “Birdman” (already doing big numbers in very limited release) and “Wild” should only help push that further.

3. Focus Features
Overall market share: 1.2%
Total gross: $99.6 million
Movies tracked: 11
2014 movies: 10
Year-to-date comparison: Up 17%
Big Hits: “The Boxtrolls,” “Dallas Buyers Club”
Respectable Grossers: “Bad Words”
Big Misses: “Wish I Was Here,” “The Signal” and “Walk of Shame”
Overall Verdict: Even.
While yes, Focus is up a bit from last year, it’s down 29.5 percent and 25.3 percent from 2012 and 2011, respectively. Clearly a company in transition as it moves into its post-James Schamus era, it’s had definite success stories in the recently-released animated film “The Boxtrolls” and 2013 holdover “Dallas Buyers Club” (which took in $11.5 million this year), but it’s had many more misses. Sci-fi thriller “The Signal” tanked with just $601,000, and Elizabeth Banks-starrer “Walk of Shame” grossed a disastrous $49,209. Oscars-hopeful “The Theory of Everything” could help things, but it’s looking more like 2015 will have to be the year when Focus get its groove back (“Fifty Shades of Grey’s” February release could certainly aid in that).

READ MORE: The 25 Highest-Grossing Indies of 2014 (A Running List)

4. IFC Films/Sundance Selects
Overall market share: 0.4%
Total gross: $31.1 million
Movies tracked: 34
2014 movies: 30
Year-to-date comparison: Up 271.3%
Big Hits: “Boyhood”
Respectable Grossers: “The Trip To Italy,” “Cold In July,” “Finding Vivian Maier”
Big Misses: “Jimmy P,” “Lucky Them,” “Hateship Loveship”
Overall Verdict: Winning.
IFC Films and sister distributor Sundance Selects are unique to this list in that they release way more films (29 so far this year), and the vast majority of them are likely to make most of their revenue on VOD. Even with that in mind, they are having an incredible year — and it’s basically because of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” Now the second highest grossing film in the distributor’s history (after “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”), the film grossed $23.6 of the noted $30.7 the company has grossed entirely. That’s helped IFC and Sundance Selects jump 271.3 percent over this period last year, and they still have the hopeful likes of “Camp X-Ray,” “The Babadook” and “Two Days, One Night” en route.

5. Roadside Attractions
Overall market share: 0.4%
Total gross: $30.9 million
Movies tracked: 13
2014 movies: 12
Year-to-date comparison: Down 20.9%
Big Hits: “A Most Wanted Man,” “The Skeleton Twins”
Respectable Grossers: “Gloria,” “Words and Pictures”
Big Misses: “Life of Crime,” “Joe”
Overall Verdict: Even.  Roadside’s 2014 slate has largely performed within expectations, and there’s no reason for them to feel disappointed with it despite a 20.9 percent drop from last year during this period. “A Most Wanted Man” has hit $17.2 million, while “The Skeleton Twins” is off to an awesome start and could easily approach $10 million. Yes, “Life of Crime” and “Joe” both tanked despite the arguable star power of Jennifer Aniston and Nicolas Cage, but they also saw Chilean import “Gloria” take in an excellent $2.1 million despite losing out on a foreign language Oscar nod.

6. Sony Pictures Classics
Overall market share: 0.3%
Total gross: $29.3 million
Movies tracked: 19
2014 movies: 12
Year-to-date comparison: Down 56.5%
Big Hits: “The Lunchbox”
Respectable Grossers: “Magic in the Moonlight,” “The Raid 2,” “Love is Strange,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “Tim’s Vermeer”
Big Misses: “For No Good Reason”
Overall Verdict: Even. 
It’s obviously very tempting to say Sony Classics is having a bad year
given they are down 56.5 percent from 2013. With no “Blue Jasmine”-sized
grosser on their slate so far, the company has seen tons of mid-sized
hits and no big breakouts — but they also haven’t seen many films tank
either. So we’re giving them a tentative “even” based on the great
remaining potential for 2014: The just-released “Whiplash” as well as
“Foxcatcher,” “Mr. Turner” and “Still Alice” — all big Oscar hopefuls.

7. CBS Films
Overall market share: 0.2%
Total gross: $13.9 million
Movies tracked: 5
2014 movies: 3
Year-to-date comparison: Down 30.6%
Big Hits: None
Respectable Grossers: “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Big Misses: “Afflicted”
Overall Verdict: Losing. 2014 is so far the lowest grossing year in CBS Films’ five year history, dropping off 30.6 percent from last year — which was not a great year in itself (it was down 73.8 percent from 2012). Its only moderate success story is the holdover grosses from the Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” — but even that number ($8 million) is somewhat disappointing. Daniel Radcliffe’s rom-com “What If” stumbled despite good reviews, and horror film “Afflicted” full on tanked (it grossed $121,179). And with no releases left on their slate, it seems like 2014 is already officially a bad year for CBS Films.

8. A24
Overall market share: 0.1%
Total gross: $11.2 million
Movies tracked: 8
2014 movies: 8
Year-to-date comparison: Down 59.9%
Big Hits: “Obvious Child”
Respectable Grossers: “Laggies,” “Under The Skin,” “Tusk”
Big Misses: “The Rover,” “Life After Beth”
Overall Verdict: Losing. A24 came out of the gate swinging last year thanks to a trio of hits in “Spring Breakers,” “The Spectacular Now” and “The Bling Ring” collectively taking in $25 million. This year’s entire slate so far hasn’t even grossed half that, though there were definitely some bright spots in “Obvious Child” and “Under The Skin.” And the distributor still has “Revenge of the Green Dragons” and “A Most Violent Year” to help make up for it.

Overall market share: 0.1%
Total gross: $7.9 million
Movies tracked: 13
2014 movies: 10
Year-to-date comparison: Up 11.6%
Big Hits: “Snowpiercer,” “Fed Up”
Respectable Grossers: “CITIZENFOUR,” “The One I Love”
Big Misses: “13 Sins”
Overall Verdict: Winning. Like IFC/Sundance Selects, RADiUS-TWC gets a substantial amount of revenue from VOD, which often makes for unimpressive grosses on the theatrical side. But 2014 saw “Snowpiercer” significantly buck that trend, grossing $4.5 million in theaters in addition to being a huge hit on VOD. That’s helped RADiUS jump 11.6 percent over last year.

10. Music Box Films
Overall market share: 0.1%
Total gross: $6.8 million
Movies tracked: 11
2014 movies: 10
Year-to-date comparison: Up 308.8%
Big Hits: “Ida,” “Le Weekend”
Respectable Grossers: “A Five Star Life,” “The Green Prince”
Big Misses: “Fifi Howls From Happiness,” “The Last Sentence”
Overall Verdict: Winning. 
Even though it ranked tenth on this list due to its overall market share, Music Box Films is definitely one of the biggest winners. Thanks to Polish “Ida” ($3.7 million) and British “Le Weekend” ($2.3 million) Music Box has shown an incredible knack for bringing foreign films to America and raking in dough beyond expectation — to the tune of a 308 percent increase over last year.

Check back for updates on this list.

READ MORE: Breaking Down the 2014 Oscar Race, Distributor by Distributor

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