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Summer Indie Counter-Programming

Posted June 18, 2010 to photo album "Summer Indie Counter-Programming"

In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, Nick Dawson looks back at summer indie hits from years past.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Kids
Slide 3: The Usual Suspects
Slide 4: Ulee's Gold
Slide 5: The Full Monty
Slide 6: The Blair Witch Project
Slide 7: Ghost World
Slide 8: Whale Rider
Slide 9: 28 Days Later
Slide 10: Swimming Pool
Slide 11: American Splendor
Slide 12: Napoleon Dynamite
Slide 13: Fahrenheit 9/11
Slide 14: Broken Flowers
Slide 15: Little Miss Sunshine
Slide 16: (500) Days of Summer
Slide 3: The Usual Suspects

Slide 3: The Usual Suspects

Release Date: August 18, 1995
Domestic Gross: $23,341,568
Programmed Against: Mortal Kombat

Director Paul W.S. Anderson’s Mortal Kombat was one of the early big-budget Hollywood films to adapt a video game. But while Nintendo and Sega-loving kids trekked off to see it in the summer of ‘95, director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie presented audiences with a modern movie that harked back to a classic Hollywood genre, the caper film, for their indie hit The Usual Suspects. The pair began with a grabby title (referencing a line from Casablanca) and the idea that the movie’s poster should feature the main characters in a police line-up. What they ended up with was one of the biggest indie hits of the 1990s. While Singer’s 1993 debut Public Access brought him some attention, he more than fulfilled his promise with this contemporary noir from McQuarrie’s smart, serpentine script. In a cast full of fine actors, Kevin Spacey stood out as soft-spoken, limping con man Verbal Kint (a man who may or may not be the infamous Keyser Söze), and went on to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. The movie earned an impressive $23 million Stateside, proving that cerebral thrillers could contend with more traditional box office fare. Singer was soon snapped up by Hollywood and went on to have monster hits with the first two films in the X-Men franchise and Superman Returns.