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Forget the pirates and newbie X-men: This summer is all about the small films

Though the summer movie slate includes a record 27 prequels, sequels, and spinoffs, it it still shaping up to be a great year for smaller, specialty films, say experts.

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“Look at the marketing campaign for ‘Horrible Bosses,’ ” he says, referring to a film starring Jennifer Aniston opening July 8. A different character and storyline appear on virtually every piece of the campaign, he says. “This way, they can reach out to as many segments of the marketplace as possible.”

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As most of the major film studios have shuttered their specialty film divisions, and a shrinking DVD market has dried up funding for smaller films, this ray of light in the small film world is welcome news for aspiring filmmakers with movies to sell.

Producer Brandon Yankowitz’s film “Trophy Kids” begins its journey through the film festival marketing process this weekend with its debut at the Dances with Films Festival in Los Angeles. The film, budgeted at under $1 million, details a generation raised on praise and trophies: “We all just got trophies simply for showing up,” he says with a laugh.

Mr. Yankowitz happily plunks down his own eight or ten dollars to support his fellow small filmmakers, he says. “The better those films do, the better it is for all of us starting out.”

This is a glorious summer, says Fandango’s Mr. Medved. “There’s something for everyone,” he notes via email. “Just look at the better-than-projected openings for small films like Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ and Terence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life,’ which enjoyed the best per-screen average in Fox Searchlight history last weekend.”

This summer’s roster of specialty films offers a few prospects for sleeper breakout on the par of a “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Slumdog Millionaire.” Two strong possibilities, both opening Friday, are “Submarine,” a Scottish coming-of-age tale about a 15-year-old in the throes of first love, and “Beginners,” a father/son comedy/drama starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.

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