For the first time in, like, forever most of the Oscar frontrunners for Best Picture have either made $100 million or are barreling towards that as we speak. Box office for “adult fare” has been off the charts this year and IS THE STORY of 2012. Any reporter not talking about the money and Oscar this year is not doing his or her job; much of the complaints over the past several years is that Oscar movies don’t make money anymore. Well, they’ve already made a shitload of bread, this, BEFORE Oscar nominations. I myself have never seen a year like this one and I think it has a lot to do with the big studio movies stepping up and providing, for once, really great movies again.
1. Lincoln – at an astonishing $143 million, Lincoln has now topped both The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire, and if it wins Best Picture it will be the highest grossing since Return of the King in 2003. How far can Lincoln go? It’s hard to say but Oscar nominations will certainly give it a bump.
2. Argo – at $110 million, Argo is still hanging in there and can only benefit from nominations. Whether it can catch Lincoln remains to be seen.
3. Django Unchained – at $106 million, Django clocked in at number two in its second week of release and looks to be a very strong earner.
4. Les Miserables – at $103 million its earned enough coin now not to be called a flop, no matter what happens to it. Will it get to $150? $200? No one knows yet what this film’s fate will ultimately be.
5. Life of Pi – at $91 million, Life of Pi is proving that strong word of mouth really can drive box office even without any well known stars. It’s a wondrous film and one that people “out there” are talking about.
That could be your Best Picture five but there are still two that are playing in limited release making hard core bucks while doing so:
1. Silver Linings Playbook – it’s at $34 million and still in only 745 theaters but word of mouth will keep ticking that upwards and all it needs is one big win (like the PGA or SAG ensemble) to drive that baby northward.
2. Zero Dark Thirty – it’s only at $4 million but its per theater average is off the hook, $45 thousand this weekend.
The real box office story this year, other than all of these $100 million babies in the running, is Lincoln. For a movie that was supposedly “a history lesson” and “homework” and “boring” to the target demo it sure is leaving everything else in the dust. At least so far anyway. Les Miserables and Django Unchained might pass it, since they zoomed to $100 mil in just two weeks.