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UPDATE: Here’s a new chart I’ll be running weekly. According to the Independent Film & Television Alliance, the trade association representing the companies that produce and distribute “independent films,” IFTA relies on the definition that it started with in 1980: an independent film is one that is financed in majority part from sources other than the six U.S. major studios. This is a pretty black and white test and does not rely on the size of the budget or the subject matter of the film to give it meaning. Budget and subject were introduced to give organizations such as Sundance and the studios themselves a wide latitude to use the label when it became fashionable to do so (or necessary to attract corporate sponsorship). This was well illustrated in 2004-05, when Million Dollar Baby, a film produced and financed by IFTA member Lakeshore, won the Academy Best Picture award, while Sideways, a studio film produced and financed by Fox Searchlight, won Film Independent’s “Independent Spirit” Award.

IFTA believes that a test that relies on economic realities is consistent with the practice in other industries (has anyone ever defined an “independent” hardware store in terms of its “edginess”?). But, more importantly, the economic test is the only way to distinguish between films that are shaped by the six major studio executives and their worldwide distribution networks and those that arise from the creative and financial efforts of the rest of the international film production and distribution industry. The distinction seems pretty obvious outside the United States. It is only here that the lines are sometimes blurred!

FROM THE INDEPENDENT FILM & TELEVISION ALLIANCE
TOP 20 INDEPENDENTLY FINANCED FILMS
Weekend of October 2 – 4, 2009
Exclusive To Deadline Hollywood

TITLE, DISTRIB, WKD BOX OFFICE, SCREENS / AVERAGE, CUME

1. Whip It (Fox Searchlight), $4,650,812, 1,721 / $2,702, $4.6M

2. Fame (MGM), $4,626,952, 3,133 / $1,477, $16.5M

3. Capitalism: A Love Story (Overture), $4,447,378, 962 / $4,623, $4.8M

4. I Can Do Bad All By Myself (Lionsgate), $2,599,720, 1,569 / $1,657, $48.2M

5. Pandorum (Overture), $1,979,061, 2,506 / $790, $7.8M

6. Inglourious Basterds (Weinstein/Uni), $1,419,256, 1,331 / $1,066, $116.8M

7. 9 (Focus Features), $1,398,401, 1,598 / $875, $29.4M

8. Bright Star (Apparition / TVA Films), $716,096, 317 / $2,259, $1.9M

9. Paranormal Activity (Paramount), $532,242, 33 / $16,129, $776K

10. Trailer Park Boys 2 (Alliance Films), $484,072, 198 / $2,445, $2.3M

11. District 9 (Sony), $480,524, 493 / $975, $114.4M

12. The Final Destination** (Warner Bros), $433,380, 535 / $810, $65.4M

13. Sorority Row (Summit), $399,560, 576 / $694, $11.4M

14. Wake Up Sid (UTV Communications), $355,532, 79 / $4,500, $355K

15. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (Freestyle), $305,465, 210 / $1,455, $846K

16. Time Traveler’s Wife** (Warner Bros), $303,728, 440 / $690, $62.2M

17. A Serious Man (Focus Features), $251,337, 6 / $41,890, $251K

18. The September Issue (Roadside Attractions), $219,572, 104 / $2,111, $2.9K

19. Coco Avant Chanel (Sony Pictures Classics), $206,052, 16 / $12,878, $473K

20. More Than A Game (Lionsgate), $182,943, 14 / $13,067, $182K

Analysis by Independent Film & Television Alliance under license from Rentrak Corporation; ©2009 IFTA. All rights reserved. **A New Line production distributed through Warner Brothers.