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Buzzy Sundance films fail to deliver at the box office




A critical hit and audience favorite out of the Sundance Film Festival, in DOPE, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT.
A critical hit and audience favorite out of the Sundance Film Festival, in DOPE, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT.
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The indie film “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, was the talk of the town this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won two top awards and sold for just above $4 million to Fox Searchlight.

But it looks like all the buzz surrounding its release didn’t translate into box office success. Since its June release, despite positive reviews, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” — a tale of a young boy’s falling in love with a terminally ill high school classmate — has  grossed only $6.2 million at domestic theaters.

"Teenagers this summer seem to be very taken with the more mainstream fare," said Hollywood Reporter film writer Pamela McClintock. "When I went to see the film, I didn't see one teenager in the audience."

But "Earl" isn't the only Sundance sensation struggling to sell tickets. "Dope," which also premiered to widespread praise at the festival this year, is also doing poorly at the box office.

The comedy by filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa about three nerdy kids trying to get respect in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood, has stalled at $16 million at the box office, a mediocre return for the critically acclaimed movie.

"It was released nationwide by Open Road Films, so considering it was a nationwide release that's a pretty poor number," McClintock said. "It hoped to play in both commercial theaters and art house theaters and never really took hold in more commercial cinemas."
 
Though we still have several months left in 2015 — including those critical awards season months — it seems indie films have an uphill battle to face at the box office this year.


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