21 Sundance hits that tanked at the box office

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Image Credit: Teddy Maki

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Pieces of April (2003)

Before she was Mrs. Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes swooshed into Sundance with a family dramedy that critics abhorred but audiences adored. The story of a proverbial black sheep (Holmes, egregiously miscast, according to many) who hosts Thanksgiving and makes amends with her long estranged, cancer-stricken mother (Patricia Clarkson) enjoyed a glowing reception. It scored the biggest deal of the fest — United Artists snapped it up for $3.5 million — and writer-director Peter Hedges was so moved by all the attention, he wept. But the momentum died in Park City. Not even Clarkson’s eventual Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination could push April past $2.5 million at the box office. —MS

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Image Credit: Theresa Dillion

Tadpole (2002)

Sundance 2002 saw a record-breaking 14 acquisitions. The priciest deal went to Gary Winick’s low-budget comedy about a high school boy (Aaron Stanford) crushed out on an older woman (Sigourney Weaver). The flick was shot on digital video for $200,000 — and looked it. But that didn’t stop Harvey Weinstein from forking over $5 million. In the end, though, the movie’s Sundance buzz proved far bigger than its box-office bite of just $2.9 million. Is it any wonder that the following year, gun-shy Sundance buyers fretted about getting ”tadpoled”? —MS

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Image Credit: Everett Collection

Blue Car (2002)

At the 2002 fest, Harvey Weinstein was, as usual, hot-to-shop. You can hardly blame him for falling in love with Blue Car, Karen Moncrieff’s promising directorial debut starring Agnes Bruckner (TV’s 24) as a troubled teen who gets involved with her English teacher (David Strathairn). Critics and festival audiences alike embraced the heady drama, and Weinstein picked it up for $1.5 million. Unfortunately, Blue Car got beaten up by bigger and shinier vehicles in theaters that summer, earning a meager $465,310. And Bruckner has yet to live up to the potential she showed here. —MS

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