Woody Allen had one of his best openings ever last weekend when Blue Jasmine made $612,064 in six locations—a staggering take of $102,011 per theater. Given strong reviews and a likely Oscar campaign for lead actress Cate Blanchett, the film is likely to do strong business in the coming weeks. It’s also virtually guaranteed to make its money back, since Allen’s films generally cost $15 million to $25 million. That indie budget range has become rare in recent years, but Allen has somehow continued to work within it, and with amazing consistency, making roughly a movie a year for the past four decades.
Just days before Blue Jasmine’s big opening, Spike Lee—another stalwart and respected indie filmmaker—announced he was turning to Kickstarter to help finance his next film, saying the studios’ obsession with “Tent Pole Enterprise[s]” had made it difficult for directors like him to continue working independently on their own smaller films. This sentiment is also shared by Steven Soderbergh, who in April gave an infamous State of the Cinema speech bemoaning the way Hollywood does business: “You’ve got fewer studio movies now taking up a bigger piece of the pie, and you’ve got twice as many independent films scrambling for a smaller piece of the pie,” he observed. (Putting his money where his mouth is, Soderbergh publicly pledged $10,000 to Lee’s Kickstarter last week.)