Still, the road ahead was rocky. An R-rated movie co-written by a teenager with female leads wasn’t exactly an easy sell. Securing funds wasn’t easy for Hardwicke, who was then working as a production designer in Hollywood, and had no prior directing experience; Reed, meanwhile, had never acted onscreen, and the screenplay was her first. It wasn’t until Holly Hunter, who would go on to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Tracy’s mother, signed on that the project finally got off the ground. After an acclaimed premiere at Sundance, where Hardwicke won the top directing award, Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the film for distribution. Thirteen
was released in five US cinemas on August 20, 2003, and grossed $116,260 (£87,195) in its opening weekend
. But the salacious subject matter resulted in word-of-mouth and heightened press coverage, especially for the teen leads. By its third week of release, Thirteen
’s gross had increased by 622%, as did the film’s reach, as it went on to screen in 73 theatres, and then up to 243, for a total domestic gross of $4.6 million (£3.45 million).