Oscar winners slipping at the box office redux

RC at Strange Culture says the Oscar nominations should not be based on which films did best at the box office. I agree.

But that reminds me, I should probably update a post that I made here last year, which marked the first time since 1985 that not one of the Best Picture nominees grossed over $100 million either before or after their nominations, and possibly the first time ever that the winner was not one of the top 25 films at the domestic box office. (Crash actually ranks way down at 49th for 2005.)

This year, the only Best Picture nominee that is anywhere near as popular as the winners of old is The Departed, which has made over $131 million so far and ranks 15th for the year. After that:

  1. Little Miss Sunshine — $59,763,253 — 52nd
  2. The Queen — $51,618,000 — 62nd
  3. Babel — $33,312,919 — 93rd
  4. Letters from Iwo Jima — $12,013,291 — 146th

Of course, these totals can and will change, and the rankings of the various films will no doubt slide up a bit. The Queen and Babel have both experienced a post-nomination surge — indeed, despite coming out months ago, they have made almost a third of their grosses in just the last few weeks — and Letters from Iwo Jima did not go into wide release until after it had been nominated.

Ah well, whatever else happens, it seems certain that 2006 will mark the first time in three years that the Best Picture winner was not outgrossed by a documentary — assuming we don’t count the semi-fictitious Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan as a “documentary”.

(In 2004, the un-nominated Fahrenheit 9/11 outgrossed Million Dollar Baby; and in 2005, Best Documentary winner March of the Penguins outgrossed Crash; whereas in 2006, the top-grossing documentary was An Inconvenient Truth, with $24.1 million — less than all the Best Picture nominees except for Iwo Jima.)

I’ll copy the list that I compiled last year below, and I’ll add this year’s winner after it is announced this Sunday.

2006 — 15 — $131.6 million — The Departed
2005 — 49 — $53.4 million — Crash
2004 — 24 — $100.5 million — Million Dollar Baby
2003 — 1 — $377.0 million — The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 — 10 — $170.7 million — Chicago
2001 — 11 — $170.7 million — A Beautiful Mind
2000 — 4 — $187.7 million — Gladiator
1999 — 13 — $130.1 million — American Beauty
1998 — 18 — $100.3 million — Shakespeare in Love
1997 — 1 — $600.8 million — Titanic
1996 — 19 — $78.7 million — The English Patient
1995 — 18 — $75.6 million — Braveheart
1994 — 1 — $329.7 million — Forrest Gump
1993 — 9 — $96.1 million — Schindler’s List
1992 — 11 — $101.2 million — Unforgiven
1991 — 4 — $130.7 million — Silence of the Lambs
1990 — 3 — $184.2 million — Dances with Wolves
1989 — 8 — $106.6 million — Driving Miss Daisy
1988 — 1 — $172.8 million — Rain Man
1987 — 25 — $44.0 million — The Last Emperor
1986 — 3 — $138.5 million — Platoon
1985 — 5 — $87.1 million — Out of Africa
1984 — 12 — $52.0 million — Amadeus
1983 — 2 — $108.4 million — Terms of Endearment
1982 — 12 — $52.8 million — Gandhi
1981 — 7 — $59.0 million — Chariots of Fire
1980 — 11 — $54.8 million — Ordinary People
1979 — xx — $106.3 million — Kramer Vs. Kramer
1978 — xx — $49.0 million — The Deer Hunter
1977 — xx — $38.3 million — Annie Hall
1976 — xx — $117.2 million — Rocky
1975 — xx — $109.0 million — One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1974 — xx — $47.5 million — The Godfather Part II
1973 — xx — $156.0 million — The Sting
1972 — xx — $133.7 million — The Godfather
1971 — xx — $51.7 million — The French Connection
1970 — xx — $61.7 million — Patton

FEB 26 UPDATE: Updated to include the winner for 2006.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11340006144797496514 RC

    thanks for the linkage.

    I wouldn’t mind if Iwo Jima won, except for the fact it would add fuel to fire to this complaint of being out of touch…

    but I think a win for Babel would show the exact same thing and Iwo Jima is a far more ambitious and interesting project and film in my mind.

  • Pingback: Oscar winners slipping at the box office — 2012


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