As we head into the Directors Guild this Saturday and this race comes to a sputtering close, it’s time to take another look at how the contenders have stacked up so far – in terms of international box office, really the big story is Life of Pi, which has made $525 million worldwide. But for these purposes, domestic box office only.

1. Lincoln $167 million
2. Django Unchained $147 million
3. Les Miserables $138 million
4. Argo $117 million
5. Life of Pi $103 million
6. Zero Dark Thirty $70 million
7. Silver Linings Playbook $70 million
8. Beasts of the Southern Wild $12 million
9. Amour $2 million

Total take: $841 million!

From $2 million all the way up to $167 million. That is a startling range.

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  • SeattleMoviegoer

    and LES MISERABLES is up to $318 million worldwide and has only opened in a third as many countries as PI so far.

  • Lynne

    Les Mis already made @319 million worldwide, and it still has 31 locations to open!

  • daveinprogress

    Harking back to an earlier editorial point you made this month, Sssha, this is the worthwhile takeaway, if nothing else, from this season of movies – how many great American films (and international ones too) have performed well at the box office. That is always worth celebrating, in an age where frothy romcoms and action flix can dominate box office, and the minds of the film goer. To have such diverse and well made movies be so visible is dare I say a ‘silver lining’ irrespective of the Oscar outcomes.

  • John

    It always does my heart good to see quality movies doing well at the box office. Gives me some hope for the industry.

  • Les Mis has made $320 million worldwide, and it hasn’t even opened in over half the international marketplace!

    Are we counting up here? Minute by minute? Million by million?

  • Manuel

    I agree with daveinprogress. These numbers are incredible!

    So come Oscartime, SLP and ZD30 will join the 100 mil dollar club. And will that translate to an increase of Oscar viewers this year?

  • Christophe

    Don’t get all worked up over Les Mis international sucess yet! The King’s Speech (Hooper) made $400M+ international, while Mamma Mia (famous musical) grossed $600M+, so imo Les Mis is a flop until it reaches $500M+WW.

  • kasper

    Lincoln’s not a type of movie that should be making this much in 2013. I hope these numbers mean the studios will put more adult-oriented fare in the multiplexes.

  • rufussondheim

    Yes, a movie that costs 60 million to make and earns 300 million is definitely a flop.

    If only I could make a flop!

  • Bryce Forestieri

    LES MIZ is pure garbage

    I remain astonished by LINCOLN’s box office


  • Zach

    To me the big surprise is that Silver Linings Playbook is not doing better. Not to be catty, but usually the rom-com nominated for a bunch of Oscars and starring two likable young leads does better than this.

    On the other hand, the takes for Zero Dark Thirty and Les Mis are especially impressive. Mamma Mia was anomalous. Apparently so was The Hurt Locker.

  • arjecc

    Avatar is the highest grossing Oscar-nominated film of all time and lost; Hurt Locker and No Country for Old Men were among the lowest-grossing and swept. Academy members like what they like and box-office has NO effect on the Oscar race as it is proven, increasingly, every year. This is no longer a relevant factor to discuss. On the other hand, it is refreshing to see this year’s nominees are doing so well, hopefully the trend continues

  • rufussondheim

    If The Hurt Locker had come out in December and has a chance to capitolize on its critical success it would have easily gotten to 50 million, probably a lot higher. The studio fucked up on that one.

  • PJ

    Speaking of box office, SLP has found a second? third? life at box office as it sits in 2nd on Monday dailies after finishing 3rd over the weekend.

  • Zach

    Also helping Zero Dark Thirty though is that it’s explicitly about capturing bin Laden.

    I disagree that box office is irrelevant. OK, only one time and that was The Hurt Locker.

    Otherwise, from Hello Dolly! to Hugo, I think disappointing B.O. returns are a go-to conscious or subconscious excuse for voting against a film. And certainly strong returns force the Academy to take a closer look at epics and crowd-pleasers like LOTR and Inception, even if only in the tech categories. Certainly Argo is helped by the fact that it did as well as it did, such that voters can feel all the better about patting themselves on the back as they vote for it.

    Very rarely has the box office been totally irrelevant, to say the least.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    so the anti-LINCOLN coalition consists of

    resentful Bigelow’s minions + disaffected LES MIZ old ladies + Spielberg haters + Ben Affleck boners = LINCOLN wins 7 Academy Awards

    ya’ll are only getting 2 awards Oscar night? I Dream a Dream + that overrated airport montage?? Shiiiiit

  • The Great Dane

    AMAZING that 7 of the Best Picture nominees is gonna have 100 million dollars in the bank come Oscar night! That’s amazing, compared to the previous years!

    And is Amour officially the lowest grossing Best Picture nominee ever?

  • The Great Dane

    is = are.

    It’s late here in Denmark 🙂

  • Terometer

    Lincoln’s boxoffice is seen as its reward, and that’s all. It needs no encouragement. This really helps Argo. haha.

  • AP

    Sad, but expected, that the best of the movies has made the least money

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    amen to those who noted the amazing, good fortune that great, Oscar nominated movies are making money at the box office. just to add…i’m thrilled that we have such an astounding variety…especially of those genres considered dead (or considered so by the vast moviegoing audience–teenage boys), namely a western, musical, political thriller, war movie, historical epic, acclaimed grown-up novel adaptation, etc. keep ’em coming…

  • phantom

    What is a really great accomplishment this season, that the ones deemed the best of 2012 are not only delivering big numbers, but big profit, as well, no Hugo, Master & Commander, Gangs of New York this year a.k.a. films that are only considered financial flops because of their bloated budgets. The only one with a production budget over 100M (Life of Pi), is more than making up for it overseas.

    1. Life of Pi – est. 600M worldwide (Budget+Marketing : 120+30M=150M)
    2. Les Mis̩rables Рest. 500M worldwide (Budget+Marketing : 61+39M=100M)
    3. Django Unchained – est. 450M worldwide (Budget+Marketing : 100+25M=125M)
    4. Lincoln – est. 300M worldwide (Budget+Marketing : 65+23M=88M)
    5. Silver Linings Playbook – est. 200M worldwide (Budget+Marketing : 21+21M=42M)
    6. Zero Dark Thirty – est. 200M worldwide (Budget+Marketing : 40+38=78M)
    7. Argo – est. 200M worldwide (Budget+Marketing : 45+35M=80M)
    8. Amour – est. 30M worldwide (Budget : 9M)
    9. Beasts of the Southern Wild – est. 17M worldwide (Budget: 1.8M)

    If those estimations hold and we go by 50% US and 40% OS that goes to the studio, the profit after the theatrical runs will look roughly something like this :

    1. Les Misérables : (75+140)-100= 115M (+DVD + TV)
    2. Life of Pi : (55+200)-150= 105M (+ DVD + TV)
    3. Django Unchained : (85+112)-125= 72M (+DVD + TV)
    4. Lincoln : (90+48)-78= 60M (+DVD + TV)
    5. Silver Linings Playbook : (50+40)-42= 38M (+DVD + TV)
    6. Zero Dark Thirty : (50+40)-78= 12M (+DVD + TV)
    7. Argo : (60+30)-80= 10M (+DVD + TV)

    You know you’re having a good year when your least succesful studio film in BP cost 45M to produce and made 120M+ in the US alone…

  • phantom

    (make that 50M profit for Lincoln, the total budget was 88M not 78M)

  • Jerry

    Lincoln and Life of Pi are the Boxoffice stories of this year’s Oscars. Both overperformed above and beyond expectations.

  • BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD has been in the redbox for like a month now. That’s how I saw it. So I know it’s not box office exactly, but it is more money and more people that have watched it. Probably a lot more actually.

    AMOUR is still nowhere to be found ’round these parts.

  • Andrew

    is this right Sasha?

    if its the film you love (lincoln) BO counts, if its not (Hurt Locker) BO doesnt count

  • desmond

    LES MISERABLES cannot reach Life of Pi’s worldwide total because 3D movies usually have a higher ticket price. (right now : No.29 domestic , No.10 overseas , may reach spider man and MIB3 numbers mext month)

    Although ALL markets of Pi hsve opened , the staying power would be strong until OSCAR.

    LES MISERABLES would not be shown in CHINA , it loses a potential market.

    btw , skyfall opened Huge in China last week : US $35 million

  • SallyinChicago

    Someone on another board made an interesting observation: Of course Ben would get the Best Picture win, because actors vote for actors who are directors.

    That leaves my prediction that the BP will have an UPSET — either Life of PI or BOTSW.
    BOTSW would follow the last three years of wins: Small budget, unknown actors, unknown director, heartfelt story.
    LIFE OF PI would win simply on vision and cinematography artistry.

    Unfortunately, Django is nowhere discussed. Neither is Denzel Washington who gave the best performance of his career; but I don’t think he minds not being in the winner’s circle. Maybe QT will win best screenplay, and I do hope Christophe gets the Best SA win.

  • SallyinCHicago

    ^^ Correction, SAG Best Picture win.

  • PaulH

    “And is Amour officially the lowest grossing Best Picture nominee ever?”

    Pretty much. A throwaway nomination that could have been better served going to TDKR, Hunger Games or The Avengers.

  • PaulH

    “If The Hurt Locker had come out in December and has a chance to capitolize on its critical success it would have easily gotten to 50 million, probably a lot higher. The studio fucked up on that one.”

    Absolutely not. If it was as good as folks claim it to be, it would have made a mint during any month of the year. Fortunately, mainstream America rejected it, nuked it, just like they did Green Zone, In The Valley of Elah and other Iraq war films that year. That time, we got it right. And the Academy got it so spectacularly wrong that it cost them 10% of viewership for the following year’s telecast, and 13% in the 18-49 demo.

  • phantom


    This might come as a shock to you, but ‘throwaway nominations’ in BP are usually not accompanied by directing, acting, writing nominations. Just because a film doesn’t make a gazillion dollars, doesn’t mean it can’t be one of the best, I can’t understand why that is such a hard concept for you to accept.

  • steve50

    PaulH makes the Oscar race sound like the breeding of chickens. Cinema Husbandry I guess we’ll call it.

  • Well I won’t be adding to those international numbers anymore. Today, the only 4 cinema screens in the Azores islands closed, and we’re reduced to either downloads or bluray / dvds. The last films showing here were Life of Pi in 3D, Django, Cloud Atlas and Les Mis. Zero Dark Thirty was supposed to open tomorrow, but now we here will have to wait for the home video release. Wish I could have seen it on the big screen.


  • Easky

    Just wanna note that the figure of Pi’s international box office hasn’t included China’s Mainland market, which I believe delivered a bigger number than the U.S. market.
    So it should have been north of 600 mil already.

  • Regarding Amour vs. TDKR, Avengers, or Hunger Games, Best Picture should not be a reward for Best Marketing and Distribution Model. The three blockbusters mentioned used established media properties, multi-million dollar ad budgets and (most importantly) significant dollars spent to book their films in thousands of theaters to create a blitz. It’s the same reason Spider-Man, MiB3, and Twilight generated more Box Office than the Oscar nominees. You can’t argue box office as a measure of Oscar success, that particular playing field isn’t level.

  • rufussondheim

    If the Oscar race is equivalent to the breeding of chickens then I guess we know who’s the cock.

  • Oscaroholic

    Hey Sasha, I’m just wondering if you ever check the charts out at Box Office Mojo. They analyze the pre-nomination gross, pre-awards gross and post-awards gross of the Best Picture nominees. Makes for some interesting data about the contenders.

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