Academy voters get their ballots at the end of the month, right after the holiday season but still during the holiday break. With pundits varying wildly in different directions once you get past the first four locked titles, Boyhood, Birdman, Theory and Imitation Game. One thing seems certain, though. This is likely going to be a year when the big blockbusters are sidelined for the smaller independents. After all, the Best Picture frontrunner came out of the indie capitol of the world, the Sundance Film Festival. But first, let’s look at how many $100 million babies there have been recently, since Oscar changed up its lineup from five to more than five, from 2009 to present day.
Gone Girl: $163,376,570
The Grand Budapest Hotel: $59,076,019
The Theory of Everything: $14,623,183
The Imitation Game: $1,124,385
Films many pundits are wagering will get in without yet opening in theaters would include:
Into the Woods
A Most Violent Year
If you take Gone Girl and Interstellar out of the picture, this is looking like the smallest ratio of movies seen by the public compared to those most likely to be chosen by the industry in as long as I can remember,.
You’ll probably say, who cares about box office. We’re supposed to be finding the highest achievements of the year. Or you might also say, “you only care about box office now because of Gone Girl!” But if you’ve been reading this site for a while you’ll see that we talk about box office a lot. While I don’t think it should ever determine winners, a movie that makes a lot of money that isn’t branded tentpole crap IS a significant achievement.
Box office has to be part of the story. Even though studios make their money primarily with tent poles now and the Oscars are often seen as fringe vanity projects, when the Oscars and audiences are in harmony it is better for everyone (except film critics who don’t care about box office).
Of course, we presume Selma, Into the Woods, American Sniper and maybe Unbroken will make money, probably Wild will draw a crowd, what kind of numbers are we talking about here?
Speaking of box office, are there any major hits this year that haven’t caught the buzz wave or are being overlooked by pundits? Here are a few of the big moneymakers:
The Fault in Our Stars – $124 million – sure, it’s kind of aimed at the YA crowd but…
Noah – $101 million it’s at least as good as Interstellar
Fury – $83 million – kind of strange how this one has been shut out across the board.
The Judge – $46 million – ditto.
St. Vincent – $41 million.
Chef – $31 million.
So on the one hand, I’m wondering why this year has become so heavily focused on the smaller indie films. Since the recent Oscar years have included such strong hits, it’s too early to talk about trends. I think we can all agree that the Oscars aren’t supposed to just be about satisfying the tastes of the few. There has to be some sort of compromise. The Avatar and Hurt Locker year was a great example of this. The Hurt Locker won, as it should have, but they didn’t ignore the massive success of Avatar. Of course, they had ten slots for nominating back then. The way they do it today, with five, Avatar might not have made it in.
The Academy’s choice to move from five to ten was a good one. But since they moved it back to five nominating slots for voters but kept their expanded list of films from anywhere from five to ten nominees, they have lost much of that ability to include a variety of types of films to represent an industry that is splintering off into factions.
Either way, have a look at the years of Best Picture nominees and their box office since 2009. From Box Office Mojo who did all of this fantastic work.