The Cannes 2012 box office results were up, particularly among the Palme d'Or contenders, led by Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," released by Focus Features to $46 million in North America. Those released so far have garnered a theatrical gross of about $119 million, compared to $102 million for the previous year, which included Oscar Best Picture winner "The Artist." (To keep this in perspective, those totals fall far short of what "Iron Man 3" grossed in its first weekend in the U.S./Canada.)
With several titles still to be released and others still in play, the ultimate total could approach $130 million, a solid increase. (These totals exclude both "Madagascar 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," whose inclusion in the festival had more to do with European marketing launches than the specialized world; both grossed more in the U.S. than all the other films screened in their years combined).
Led by a recent year (and possibly all time) record of 21 of 22 official competition films gaining U.S. distribution (including some yet to play), 2012's Cannes line-up (from all sections) shows 58 total -- much above average -- out of 100 titles that were presented ending up with domestic rights acquired, most of them after their festival showings.
Why this increase in business? It likely comes from the demand for product due to expanding platforms, particularly Video on Demand and other live streaming venues, some of which pursue more obscure and/or non-English language films that normally don't play in the traditional theatrical-first release pattern.
An overview of each section shows that the success rate beyond competition was spotty at best. Only one film that was acquired at the festival or after has grossed over $2 million so far (a second is approaching that level). Again, this only reflects reported revenues from theaters.
Many films are acquired for a minimal level (sometimes for only a marketing and release commitment), or are expected to make most of their revenues from non-theatrical sources, so the in-theater gross doesn't indicate the final word on the success in many cases. Still, a review of each section could give hints as to where the gold might be in this year's acquisitions hunt.
Released (Title/distributor/US-Canada theatrical gross to date - * indicates still in theaters):
"Moonrise Kingdom" (Focus) - $45,912,000
"Lawless" (Weinstein) - $37,400,000
"Killing Them Softly" (Weinstein) - $15,026,000
"Mud" (Roadside Attractions) - $8,363,000 *
"Amour" (Sony Pictures Classics) - $6,737,000
"Rust and Bone" (Sony Pictures Classics) - $2,197,000
"Cosmopolis" (EOne) - $764,000
"On the Road" (IFC) - $718,000
"The Paperboy" (Millennium) - $693,000
"Holy Motors" (Indomina) - $641,000
"Like Someone in Love" (IFC) - $223,000
"Angels' Share" (IFC) - $180,000 *
"Beyond the Hills" (IFC) - $110,000
"Reality" (Oscilloscope) - $70,000
"In Another Country" (Kino Lorber) - $25,000
"Paradise: Love" (Strand) - $20,000 *
"Post Tenebras Lux" (Strand) - $12,000 *
"The Taste of Money" (IFC) - (no gross reported)
Not yet released: