How Oscar nods boosted 2017's best picture contenders at the box office
What is a best picture nomination worth these days?
The answer to that question exists on a sliding scale, but, per comScore’s tracking data, it’s anywhere between $1.5 and $67.8 million for this year’s crop of Oscar nominees.
Of the Academy’s nine current contenders for Hollywood’s top award, three have earned more than $100 million: Fox’s Hidden Figures ($152.8 million), Paramount’s Arrival ($100.3 million), and likely best picture winner La La Land ($140.9 million). According to comScore’s findings, the titles added $67.8 million, $4.6 million, and $50.4 million, respectively, in the period between Jan. 24’s Oscar nods announcement and Sunday’s 89th Academy Awards telecast.
In terms of weekend grosses, Arrival stormed an additional 1,041 theaters thanks to its nominations haul, vaulting 358 percent from a $321,411 weekend take to $1.5 million across the following frame with eight total nods in tow. Over the same period, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge jumped 433 percent ($78,148 to $416,398), Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight climbed 151 percent ($593,851 to $1.5 million), Denzel Washington’s Fences grew by 19 percent ($1.2 million to $1.4 million), Garth Davis’ Lion upped its total by 33 percent ($1.8 million to $2.4 million), and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea surged 118 percent ($948,910 to $2.1 million).
While all of the 2017 best picture contenders had cleared their production costs prior to receiving Oscar nominations, whether these films were destined to be hits with or without Academy verification remains to be seen, though inherently appealing titles like Hidden Figures and La La Land likely would’ve struck a chord either way, while Arrival had already held its own on the domestic charts in November after generating precursor buzz along the fall festival circuit.
Academy standards allow for anywhere between five and 10 films to be nominated for best picture and, per tradition, screenings are held and campaigns are mounted by studios and distributors. Despite prestige pictures’ comparatively modest grosses on the commercial circuit next to their big-budget brethren (their buzz is often bigger than their box office bite), films like Moonlight and Hell or High Water ($22.3 million and $27 million domestically)capitalize on hard-fought bids for awards season acclaim that tout their critical excellence and, therefore, attract niche audiences to triumphant — if not overwhelming — numbers.
Amid the Academy’s ongoing efforts to diversify its voting ranks, it has struggled to nominate a consistent set of Hollywood crowd-pleasers for its top award. Many have criticized the Academy for lauding little-seen titles in large swaths, as only four best picture winners since 2006 have grossed in excess of $100 million, with the remaining titles landing anywhere between $17 million (The Hurt Locker) and $74.3 million (No Country for Old Men). If La La Land, this year’s presumptive best picture frontrunner, wins, it will be the category’s first $100 million-plus grosser since 2012’s Argo.
Still, major studio titles have crept into the Academy’s most prestigious category in the past. In 2009, James Cameron’s epic fantasy Avatar ($749.8 million) scored a best picture nomination, while late-breaking blockbusters like American Sniper ($350.1 million), and The Revenant ($183.7 million) have also made appearances in multiple above-the-line Oscar categories in recent years.
Check out comScore’s box office statistics for 2017’s best picture contenders below. The 2017 Academy Awards show, produced by Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd, will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. ABC will broadcast the event beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Total gross: $152.8 million
Pre-nomination gross: $85 million
Post-nomination gross: $67.8 million (44 percent of total)
La La Land
Total gross: $140.9 million
Pre-nomination gross: $90.5 million
Post-nomination gross: $50.4 million (36 percent of total)
Total gross: $100.3 million
Pre-nomination gross: $95.7 million
Post-nomination gross: $4.6 million (5 percent of total)
Total gross: $67 million
Pre-nomination gross: $65.5 million
Post-nomination gross: $1.5 million (2 percent of total)
Total gross: $56.5 million
Pre-nomination gross: $48.8 million
Post-nomination gross: $7.7 million (14 percent of total)
Manchester by the Sea
Total gross: $46.9 million
Pre-nomination gross: $39 million
Post-nomination gross: $7.9 million (17 percent of total)
Total gross: $42.8 million
Pre-nomination gross: $16.5 million
Post-nomination gross: $26.3 million (61 percent of total)
Hell Or High Water
Total gross: $27 million
Pre-nomination gross: $27 million
Post-nomination gross: Studio not tracking (the film hit digital/VOD platforms in November)
Total gross: $22.3 million
Pre-nomination gross: $15.9 million
Post-nomination gross: $6.4 million (29 percent of total)