Jon Favreau admits to being a bit obsessive when it comes to box-office results, as any good blockbuster director should be. “That’s the ultimate scorecard for whether you get to make more movies or not,” he told EW Tuesday night at an event for his latest film Chef, a small-budget pic about an influential chef who goes back to his roots by opening a food truck.
After opening on just six screens in early May, the film gained momentum throughout the summer, sticking around for over 18 weeks. Chef‘s $45.9 million worldwide earnings might seem paltry compared to, say, Iron Man‘s $98.6 million opening weekend, but of course in box-office terms, it’s all relative. Based on Chef‘s modest production budget and minimal marketing, Favreau’s return to indies after nearly a decade of trafficking in big-budget tent poles was a runaway success.
“People came back and saw it over and over, which meant that I connected with people who felt passionately about the film,” said Favreau. “There was not one billboard for the movie. Everything was from word of mouth. That was what was exciting. Much like the food truck in the movie, its success owed itself to the people who were reacting to what we were doing.” Favreau attributes a lot of that buzz to the “power of social media,” likening its ability to help an indie find its footing to its ability to bolster the stature of anything from stand-ups to food trucks.