Movieline at the Midpoint: 5 Sleeper Films from 2011 That You Didn't Know Were Hits

Bridesmaids is arguably the biggest success story of the year, if you consider that its box office grosses not only turned a female R-rated comedy into a blockbuster, but gave new life (and industry confidence) to the entire subgenre of lady-fronted comedy. Looking back on the first half of 2011, though, not every surprise was a Bridesmaids; some hit the jackpot without making nary a splash in the public eye. Continue along our look back from the midpoint of the year and consider these five quiet hits that you probably didn't know were hits.

Note: Budget numbers are not official, and do not include marketing.

Jumping the Broom

Budget: $6.6M

Opening weekend box office: $15.2M

Gross to date: $37.2M ($37.7M worldwide)

Look out, Tyler Perry! While it fell behind the numbers of Perry's latest franchise continuation, TriStar's urban Christian rom-com Jumping the Broom earned a surprising return on its mere $6.6M budget, staying on par with the Kate Hudson-Gennifer Goodwin romantic comedy Something Borrowed (domestic gross: $38.8M) through its theatrical run. That lit adaptation had the benefit of mainstream stars, a pre-existing bestseller following, and nearly five times the budget; Jumping the Broom, meanwhile, earned rave moviegoer reactions and benefited from strong word of mouth among its target faith-based audience -- a formula producers hope to replicate with similar future programming.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Budget: $21M

Opening weekend box office: $23.7M

Gross to date: $52.6M ($70.4M worldwide)

Fox's 2010 kid lit adaptation Diary of a Wimpy Kid made a decent splash (and featured a supporting turn by Chloe Moretz, pre-Hit Girl), earning $64M from a $15M budget. Its 2011 sequel didn't quite measure up to the original's numbers but still fared modestly well, with a $52.6M take -- not bad for a film reliant on young mostly unknown stars geared toward children that didn't have the added benefit of being a fantasy film. By contrast, Diary 2 out-grossed the Kevin James-Vince Vaughn comedy The Dilemma ($48.4M), the Farrelly Bros.' Hall Pass ($45M), and Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch ($36.3M), which it beat during opening weekend. Score another one for the little guys.


Budget: $1.5M

Opening weekend box office: $17.3M

Gross to date: $53.7M ($87.9M worldwide)

Bob Berney's FilmDistrict scored a solid debut release in Insidious, James Wan's $1.5M horror tale, which opened above expectations and remained in theaters far beyond initial estimates. Strong word of mouth was a factor in its success, especially with the critical lashing horror sequel Scream 4 received weeks later; audiences responded to Insidious's low-budget charms and kept coming for 14 weeks despite the fact that its marketing campaign focused on an image of a sinister child instead of its only stars, Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Budget: $13M

Opening weekend box office: $29.5M

Gross to date: $73M ($98.4M worldwide)

We all know someone, a grown adult with no compunctions towards the towheaded pop phenom Justin Bieber, who somehow -- accidentally, ironically, secretly -- went to see Jon M. Chu's 3-D concert doc/biopic... and liked it. As such, it wasn't just diehard tweener JB fans who propelled JB: NSN (or the limited run follow-up, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never -- The Director's Fan Cut) -- at least beyond its strong $29.5M opening weekend. Thanks to the power of Twitter, surprisingly positive word of mouth, and a fan-engaging campaign, it rose through 13 weeks to become the highest grossing concert doc in its category since 1984, beating out the Jonas Bros., Miley Cyrus, and Michael Jackson's respective musical concert pics. Globally it reached $98.4M. All hail the power of the Biebster!


Budget: $27M

Opening weekend box office: $18.9M

Gross to date: $79.2M ($155.4M worldwide)

Neil Burger's Bradley Cooper-starrer Limitless opened at No. 1 opposite Paul and The Lincoln Lawyer before proceeding to fly under the radar throughout its run. After a long 16 weeks in theaters it wound up earning a strong $79.2M domestic. More impressive: It nearly doubled its take in the foreign market, where an additional $76.2M brought Limitless's total take to $155.4M worldwide.

Read more of Movieline's 2011 Midpoint reports.


  • Martini Shark says:

    You could have included "Soul Surfer" as well, making $43 million against a budget of $18 mil. That is still a strong result even if it did not pay off like a one-armed-bandit.

  • CitizenBitch says:

    It would have made more money if it was spelled Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rulez.

  • mfan2 says:

    I don't know if it's fair to say Bieber beat Miley.
    1) Adjusted for inflation, it was a virtual tie
    2) Bieber had many, many more theaters
    3) Miley was in the movie!!! That's why I went.
    For people who didn't see it, Jon Chu (director) did a really good/imaginative job with the 3D. I think that's part of the reason he got the G.I.Joe 2 3D gig.

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