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Summit Int’l leads pack as indies enjoy robust 2011

The runaway success of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 ensured the company’s slate grossed more than $754m through international licensees in 2011 – easily the highest figure for any US sales agent.

A handful of notable results from other US-based sales companies in an inevitably incomprehensive, unadjusted poll by Screendaily offers a snapshot of one aspect of the independent marketplace and confirms the existence of a robust environment where challenges and opportunity abound.

An influx of ambitious new investors, the prudent management of budgets, strong distributor relationships and the occasional migration of A-list talent have bolstered the prospects of commercial fare and resulted in the kind of numbers traditionally associated with studio product.

Summit International’s penultimate Twilight episode was projected to end 2011 on $410m through international licensees and ranks as the company’s top title and indeed the top independent release of the year, followed by The Three Musketeers on $119.5m and Source Code on $86.1m.

Lionsgate films delivered $380.9m in 2011, boosted in great part by a trio from Relativity Media. Immortals was the top film on $112.9m, followed by Limitless on $86.2m and Season Of The Witch on $70.7m. Next was Abduction on $54m followed by The Next Three Days on $22.7m.

GK Films earned $353.7m internationally in 2011 although the company is an anomaly. Graham King merits inclusion as an established powerhouse producer, although the irony is his success ushered in studio participation long ago. Except in a few cases where GK Films handled sales itself, studios released the films below in the majority of territories.

The Tourist grossed $210.7m through Sony Pictures Releasing International, Rango took $120m through Paramount Pictures International (PPI) and Hugo stands at an early $13.8m through PPI and has only opened in two territories.

IM Global chief Stuart Ford projected a $338.6m combined box office for the company’s films through international licensees in 2011.

Leading the roster was Insidious on $109m, followed by two massive local language hits – Elite Squad 2 on $63m (although the film was self-distributed in Brazil by director Jose Padilha) and UK comedy smash The Inbetweeners Movie on $83m. Bodyguard generated $31.4m. IM Global’s 2012 slate includes Bullet To The Head, Safe, Sinister and Dredd.

Relativity Media opened for business as a North American distributor in 2011 and stretched its claws internationally through its expanding network of output deals and sales partnerships with Lionsgate and FilmNation.

Its films amassed $320.9m and the picture is dominated by the trio released by Lionsgate, as mentioned earlier. Immortals has earned $113m to date and remains active in places including a limited number of Universal territories, while Limitless grossed $86.2m and Season Of The Witch took $70.7m.

The Weinstein Company reported $266.2m for 2011 led by $91m for its territories on The King’s Speech. Other highlights for TWC International were Scream 4 on $59.1m, Spy Kids 4 on $36.4m and I Don’t Know How She Does It on $22.4m.

The FilmNation slate generated $234m led by the runaway success of The King’s Speech on $118.9m. FilmNation’s territories for the 2011 best picture Oscar winner include Italy, Spain, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, South Korea and South Africa.

Other high achievers for the company were Sanctum and The Skin I Live In.

Sierra / Affinity films grossed $70.2m in 2011, led by Nicolas Winding Refn’s awards contender Drive on $33.7m and the prospect of launches in Germany and Latin America still to come. After that came Shark Night 3D on $22.6m and Beastly on $12.6m

Exclusive Films International’s line-up grossed around $70m in total. Peter Weir’s The Way Back and George Clooney’s political morality tale The Ides Of March on $23m were the standouts.

There were encouraging performances too from George Harrison: Living In The Material World, The Resident and Let Me In.

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