Over the holidays, most moviegoers have opted for big-budget, spectacle-heavy and family-friendly films at the box office. But while "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and "Frozen" have been packing them in for weeks now, a few smaller, independent pictures have quietly been doing respectable business in far fewer theaters.
With the Academy Award nominations just over two weeks away, the indie award-season hopeful that has far-and-away grossed the most at the multiplex is "12 Years a Slave." The 19th century period drama, which follows a man's journey to escape slavery in the South, has grossed $37.8 million since its limited release on Oct. 18.
That's a serious feat for the movie, putting to rest the argument made by some that the film would be too intense for mainstream audiences. The picture has grossed more that double its closest box-office rival among recent indie releases, the British drama
Of course, there are some major caveats: "12 Years a Slave" was released more than a month before "Philomena" and most other critical darlings at the arthouse. As a result, "12 Years" has already played in more than 1,400 cinemas, while none of its competitors has yet to play in more than 1,000 locations.
OK, so it's not a fair fight yet. But even when -- or if -- the fall's indie favorites expand nationwide, do they stand a chance of grossing more than "12 Years a Slave"? Possibly not. Let's take a closer look:
"All Is Lost"
From the jump, this film seemed like a hard sell at the box office. It stars
Since its release about two months ago, this
With the exception of
Following the death of
The Coen brothers' new film got off to one of the strongest starts of the year for an indie movie, scoring a per-theater average of $101,353. Since opening earlier this month, the folk drama about a struggling singer-songwriter has grossed $4.6 million. Given that the movie is still in fewer than 200 theaters -- and how much buzz its soundtrack has been getting -- it feels like this film has a long way to go at the box office. Will it be one of the Coen brothers' biggest box-office hits? No. But will it far exceed the $9.2-million their last small film,
Of the films we're considering here, it seems "Her" could end up being the dark horse at the box office. The movie is only in about 47 theaters right now, and has sold $1.7 million worth of tickets -- but it's going wide on Jan. 10. By then, many of the popular Christmas releases will be old news, and there aren't many new films coming out next month that look, uh, promising. Sure, the film's plot may initially seem too odd for some -- it's about a man (