As the Academy readies its envelopes ahead of the Oscars this Sunday, some movies have already won—at the box office.
Dunkirk is far and away this year’s top-grossing Oscar movie. The only out-and-out big budget flick nominated for Best Picture, the Christopher Nolan-directed drama notched $525.6 million worldwide on a $100 million budget—more than double the total of the next highest-grossing nominee, Get Out.
The nine Best Picture nominees grossed $1.3 billion worldwide combined, with six of them edging past $100 million. All except Phantom Thread (No. 8) recouped their budget at the box office: Paul Thomas Anderson’s British portrait has managed just $33.3 million worldwide so far on an estimated $35 million budget.
Rounding out the top five top-grossing selections are The Post (No. 3; $145.8 million), Darkest Hour (No. 4; $135.8 million) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (No. 5; $121.5 million).
The most profitable Best Picture nominee: Get Out, which grossed $255 million globally, an impressive 57 times its $4.5 million budget. Directed by Jordan Peele, the racially-charged comedic horror scored four Oscar nominations including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
“The higher the budget gets, the fewer storytelling risks you’re able to take,” producer Jason Blum, whose Blumhouse Productions financed Get Out‘s shoestring budget, told Vulture.
The Academy, a voting membership comprised of more than 6,200 industry insiders, elected to nominate small arthouse movies such as Call Me By Your Name (No. 9; $29 million) which opened in fewer than 1,000 theaters. To wit, the widely-released and highly popular Wonder Woman was completely iced out. As the only other blockbuster contender for Best Picture besides Dunkirk, Patty Jenkins’ comicbook adaptation tallied $821.8 million internationally and seemed a shoe-in for technical categories at the least, but did not receive a single nomination.
Instead, the Academy opted for only nine Best Picture nominees, rather than the full 10 it was able to select. More than half of those nominees opened on fewer than 2,000 theaters, meaning that the Oscars anointed movies that the majority of people have not even had the chance to see.
Award acclaim and box office success have not always been misaligned: Avatar was nominated in 2009 and grossed $2.8 billion, while The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King grossed $1.1 billion and won Best Picture in 2004. Famously, Titanic won 11 Oscars in 1998, making it one of the most decorated movies ever; it also grossed $2.1 billion worldwide.
But in recent years, even as the international box office has become increasingly important, Best Picture nominees have largely comprised of specialty box office movies seen by few outside Hollywood–or America.
SOURCE: (FORBES) | Contributor: Natalie Robehmed