In the same year that Back to the Future Part II, Batman, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade topped the box office, a new wave of indie film directors began to make their presence known. Movies like Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing weren’t bringing in box office receipts to rival Steven Spielberg, but they were gaining enough buzz both on the film festival circuit and by word-of-mouth to bring in some serious ROI. Sex, lies, and videotape had a $1 million budget and a $24.7 million run at the box office, while Do the Right Thing made more than six times its original $6 million budget.
The box office success of Soderbergh and Lee announced the duo as rising stars in the industry and highlighted the dearth of personal, character-driven films at the box office. Their films opened the door for a flood of new filmmakers (Kevin Smith, Michael Moore, Quentin Tarantino, and Richard Linklater are just a few names you'll recognize) intent on channeling the spirit of the indie voices who had come before them, from John Cassavetes to Jean-Luc Godard.