Biggest Sleeper Hits of the Decade

paranormal-activity-dwrks2Here’s a list of the biggest sleeper hits of the last ten years.  What patterns do we see?  Only two could be classified as drama, and both feature foreign locales and are about foreign nationals.  Two are  documentaries (one is a comedic practical joke video).  Four are comedies.  And two are horror films.  Here is the run-down.

Sleepers come seemingly out of nowhere. They are the little films that confound expectations, attracting enthusiastic audiences that happily spread the word. Sometimes they come from the studio system, produced almost as an afterthought, but mostly they’re produced well off the radar. On occasion, they upend the established order by opening at No. 1 at the boxoffice. But more typically they start small, building over time, hanging on in theaters as more heralded movies come and go. Often the filmmakers involved meet with initial rejection before wildly triumphing in the end. In the process, they expose the limitations of Hollywood’s conventional thinking about what makes a hit.

10. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Sony Pictures Classics, 2000)
Budget: $17 million
Domestic gross: $128 million

10. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Sony Pictures Classics, 2000)
Budget: $17 million
Domestic gross: $128 million

8. “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight, 2008)
Budget: $15 million
Domestic gross: $141.3 million

7. March of the Penguins (Warner Independent/National Geographic, 2005)
Budget: $8 million
Domestic gross: $77.4 million

6. Jackass: The Movie (Paramount, 2002)
Budget: $5 million
Domestic gross: $64.3 million

5. “Juno” (Fox Searchlight, 2007)
Budget: $7.5 million
Domestic gross: $143.5 million

4. “Saw” (Lionsgate, 2004)
Budget: $1.2 million
Domestic gross: $55.2 million

3. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (IFC, 2002)
Budget: $5 million
Domestic gross: $241.4 million

9. “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” (Lionsgate, 2005)
Budget: $5.5 million
Domestic gross: $50.4 million

2. “Napoleon Dynamite” (Fox Searchlight/Paramount 2004)
Budget: $400,000
Domestic gross: $44.5 million

1. “Paranormal Activity” (Paramount, 2009)
Budget: $15,000
Domestic gross: $107.6 million

The full story and video clips from The Hollywood Reporter

4 Comments

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    • Reply Laurie Hutzler 25th February 2013

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  2. Reply hmmm 20th May 2014

    i cant believe that black swan is not in this list

    • Reply Laurie Hutzler 17th June 2014

      Quite right. An unexpected hit with audiences.

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