Slumdog Millionaire’s success skews the figures as indie titles face mixed results at the UK box office.

Of the top 50 films released between January and June this year, films produced outside the US studios grossed a total of $173.6m (£106.4m), up 6.2% on the same period in 2008.

The figures include the runaway success of Slumdog Millionaire, as Danny Boyle’s Mumbai-set drama became Pathé Distribution’s highest grossing film ever in the UK (and one of its last films before its distribution deal with Warner Bros). Slumdog took $53.1m (£31.7m) from its January 9 release, and was the best performing film of the year until Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince opened in July.

However, if Slumdog Millionaire’s performance is factored out, the figure stands at $122.1m (£74.8m) — down 25.4% on 2008. The number of indie films in the top 50 was also down from 20 in 2008 to 15 in the first six months of 2009, with Slumdog one of only three indie titles in the top 20 during this period, alongside US titles 17 Again and He’s Just Not That Into You (released in the UK by Entertainment).

Only two UK films, Slumdog and The Young Victoria, have generated more than $5m (£3m) in 2009 to June.
A slew of well-received low-budget local films have performed solidly including SPRI’s The Damned United ($3.7m), Optimum’s political satire In The Loop ($3.5m) and Icon Film Distribution’s Ken Loach comedy Looking For Eric ($2m).

Foreign-language titles also fared well, with Swedish horror Let The Right One In taking $1.8m (£1.1m), outperforming its home success. The Class performed well for Artificial Eye, grossing $1.5m, compared to the $503,000 that 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days took for the arthouse distributor in a similar slot last year.

The independent sector may make up some ground in the second half of this year. Examples include key releases from Optimum Releasing (The Time Traveler’s Wife, August 14, and The Hurt Locker, August 28), MomentumPictures (Dorian Gray, September 11), E1 Entertainment UK (An Education, October 30, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, November 20), Lionsgate UK (Harry Brown, November 13, and The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, October 16), Entertainment (Nine, November 27) and Warner Bros (Broken Embraces, August 28, and The Descent: Part 2, December 4).

 Title (Origin)DistributorBox Office Gross £Box Office Gross $
1Slumdog MillionairePathe Distributon£31.7m£53m
217 AgainEntertainment Film Distributors£11.2m£18.8m
3He’s Just Not That Into YouEntertainment Film Distributors£9.5m£15.9m
4My Bloody ValentineLionsgate£7m£11.8m
5KnowingE1 Films UK£6.8m£11.4m