On blockbuster weekend, indies 'The Raid,' 'October Baby' find success
"The Hunger Games" may have had blockbuster levels of success at the box office this weekend, but some independent films still managed to carve out their own smaller victories.
The most notable was that of "The Raid: Redemption," an action film that has generated buzz on the festival circuit since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. The movie debuted in 14 theaters this weekend and collected $220,937, according to an estimate from distributor Sony Pictures Classics. That amounted to a healthy per-location average of $15,781.
Produced for around $1 million, "The Raid" was directed by 31-year-old Wales native Gareth Evans, who has since relocated to Indonesia to focus on making martial arts films. The movie tells the story of a special forces team stuck in an apartment building where a crime lord lives, and features silat, an Indonesian martial art. The film has received positive critical reviews, earning a 86% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- the same score weekend winner "The Hunger Games" currently has.
Meanwhile, Samuel Goldwyn released the abortion drama "October Baby" on 390 screens, where it grossed $1.7 million. While that was enough to vault the film into the top 10 highest grossing pictures of the weekend, it still only had a so-so per-theater average of $4,306. The film follows the story of a young woman who learns her mother initially wanted to abort her, but instead gave her up for adoption.
The movie's overall gross is technically $1.9 million now, because the $800,000 film was released in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi due to the support of the conservative American Family Assn. The Mississippi-based organization distributed the film to drum up support for a state anti-abortion ballot initiative that later failed.
In an effort to finance a wider release, filmmaking brother team Jon and Andrew Erwin were able to raise $3 million from investors. To promote the film, its backers screened it for church groups and ran advertisements on networks such as Fox News.
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Iko Uwais stars in "The Raid: Redemption." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics