TIME Magazine recently noted something similar in their article:
"Oscar nominations and old-fashioned word of mouth--earned robust box-office results: Little Miss Sunshine, No Country for Old Men and, most remarkably, Juno, the teen-pregnancy comedy that, on a $7.5 million budget, outgrossed such pricey, massively promoted (and popular) superproductions as Prince Caspian and The Incredible Hulk."
But, the article notes, this year those tiny, niche movies that make ten times what they cost were non-existent. Not a surprise though:
-If you've got limited funds and have a choice between seeing a niche movie or a blockbuster, which will you go see? Box offices say it was the blockbuster at least this year.
-And let's be serious: when has there, in recent history been a year of Blockbusters like this one: A new Indiana Jones, a new Bond movie, a new Batman movie, Iron Man, Hancock--that's quite a few and that's just the top four. There were fine showings by Momma Mia! and Sex and the City as well.
Only exception to the bad showing by niche movies: Fireproof. It was made for half a million and grossed $33 million.
By prediction? This was an off-year. You'll see alot more Fireproofs...