Sundance 2012 ended on Sunday and dozens of films were purchased with the promise that they will one day see the light of day—or better yet, the dark insides of a movie theatre.
But before the filmmakers and actors can rejoice in their happy, Hollywood ending, they first will have to see how the films fare at the box office.
While many purchased Sundance films later struggle at the box office, there have been a few successful surprises to come out of the film festival.
The last two years have seen a giant surge of Sundance films that are nominated for Academy Awards as well as a spike in box office results. And throughout the over 25-year history of Sundance, several films have had surprisingly high box-office results considering their low-budgets.
Since this year’s Sundance films haven’t yet been released to the public…
Box Office Gross: $26,782,316
It seemed like a joke. 'Scrubs' TV sitcom star Zach Braff wrote and directed a movie and got Natalie Portman to star in said movie? And then the film released and the world got it.
'Garden State' was a runaway hit at Sundance and ended up doing fairly well for being such a low-budget film. The plot centered around Braff's character Andrew going back to his childhood home for his mother's funeral, where he deals with a dysfunctional relationship with his father and finds love with Portman's Sam.
Box Office Gross: $32,543,449
This 2003 adorable comedy proved to be a celebration of Indian film as well as a fusion of East and West.
Starring a much younger Keira Knightley and 'ER' star Parminder Nagra, 'Beckham' was about an Indian girl living in London who wants nothing more than to break away from the stereotypical Indian traditions so she can play professional soccer. Of course, her parents and family don't understand this at all.
The film ended up raking in over eight times its production budget.
Box Office Gross: $35,930,604
This gripping tale of an elderly couple who deal with losing their son and seeing the murderer go free was a monster hit with audiences and critics in Park City.
But no one figured it would have the mainstream success it received after the theatrical release.
The box office result was most unexpected as the film was made for a mere $2 million. But the cherry on top was the five Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and noms for actors Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson and Marissa Tomei.
Box Office Gross: $44,540,956
The biggest surprise out of 2004's Sundance Festival was the success of this awkward, adorable film about a nerdy guy's awkward, adorable relationships with those around him.
The film spawned T-Shirts ('Vote for Pedro), parodies, a new TV show on Fox and millions of imitations. Who could forget quotes like, 'gosh!', freakin' idiot!' and of course, that dance scene.
Box Office Gross: $45,064,915
Before Danny Boyle won countless awards for 'Slumdog Millionare' he gave the world this underrated horror masterpiece in the vein of George Romero zombie films.
'28 Days Later' was an expert take on the zombie genre that pushed it to new boundaries. Boyle made the zombies run faster due to a virus that attacks aggression and makes it spin out of control and by making the characters of 'Batman Begins' actor Cillian Murphy and 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' star Naomie Harris smarter, there was no reason for people to yell at the screen in anger.
The film started a new trend of fast moving zombies, spawned a sequel '28 Weeks Later', and launched both Boyle and Murphy to stardom.
Box Office Gross: $47,566,524
A dark, ridiculously emotional film, 'Precious' was a Sundance and overall critical hit from the start.
The story revolves around Precious, a teenage girl who's been through an excessive amount of physical and emotional abuse. Precious starts to see potential in herself because of her teacher at a new school and tries to take herself out of the volatile situation she's been living in for so many years.
The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won two, including Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique.
Box Office Gross: $55,185,045
It's impossible to think that a huge horror franchise like 'Saw' started out with a small premiere at Sundance.
The first of seven films begins with two men waking up in a dirty old bathroom and must figure out why they're there and how they can get out. But as know all too well, they have to 'play a game.'
The movie premiered to a packed theatre for three nights and got a largely positive reaction. The films have had great success in mainstream theatres but would they receive such positive feedback now? Probably not.
Box Office Gross: $57,938,693
What? Ashton Kutcher stayed out of the tabloids long enough to do a film that went to Sundance?
Well, they don't have to all be good. Despite 2004's tough competition with films like 'Garden State,' 'Napoelon Dynamite,' and the comedy 'Saved!' Kutcher's supernatural film about time-travelling through his memories still made bank at the box office.
Box Office Gross: $59,891,098
A dysfunctional family taking a road trip to watch their youngest compete in a creepy pageant? It has Sundance gold written all over it. But 'Little Miss Sunshine' has also gone on to massive success in the almost six short years since its release.
With a brilliant cast (Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear) hilariously memorable scenes, it's no wonder the film was universally loved. 'Little Miss Sunshine' was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two, including Best Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin, aka Grandpa.
Box Office Result: $140,539,099
The biggest box office surprise comes from another horror film. Not only was 'Blair Witch' a surprise success at Sundance, but it later brought in a serious amount of money at teh box office for a film that cost less than a million to make.
'Blair Witch' has been praised and parodied from day one of its release but audiences owe a lot to the movie. Because of the horror flick, the world was introduced to the effectiveness of the shaky-cam and 'found-footage' horror movies. Though nowadays, it's slowly becomming a curse with all of the movies that do it so terribly.
This year's Sundance Film Festival has already ended with a bevy of films purchased and waiting to be released. Any of them could surprise in theatres.
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