LOS ANGELES — The milestones just keep coming for "Slumdog Millionaire": After winning eight Academy Awards, including best picture, the feel-good indie has now crossed the $200 million mark in worldwide box office.
As of Thursday afternoon, "Slumdog" had grossed nearly $217 million from theaters around the globe. It made $12 million the weekend after it dominated the Feb. 22 Academy Awards, a healthy 43 percent improvement over the previous weekend, and came in at No. 3 behind two movies with strong built-in audiences, "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail" and "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience."
By contrast, previous best-picture winner "No Country for Old Men" had a worldwide gross of just more than $162 million, while Martin Scorsese's star-studded "The Departed" from 2006 made nearly $290 million worldwide.
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"Slumdog Millionaire" tells the story of an 18-year-old orphan who rises from the streets of Mumbai to become the biggest winner ever on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Director Danny Boyle's film had a budget of about $15 million, featured no well-known stars and is partly in subtitled Hindi, but it's wowed audiences and critics alike.
Steve Gilula, co-chief operating officer for Fox Searchlight, which released "Slumdog," said he expects the movie will go past $250 million globally.
"It's extraordinary," Gilula said. "Very, very few films get past $200 million worldwide."
Comparatively, another small Searchlight movie that made it big, 2007's "Juno," made $230 million worldwide.
Gilula attributes the global success of "Slumdog Millionaire" to a couple of factors. One is the international nature of the setting, the cast and the Oscar-winning filmmakers — Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy are British, for example, and composer A.R. Rahman is from India. The other is the attention it got from winning top honors at the Golden Globe Awards, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and Britain's BAFTAs.
"All of that comes together to create a phenomenon," he said.