Oscar winners slipping at the box office — 2014

Oscar winners slipping at the box office — 2014 January 15, 2015

americansniperI devoted posts to this subject in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013 — so here’s the post for 2014.

2005 marked the first time since 1996 that the Best Picture winner did not gross at least $100 million, the first time since 1985 that not one of the Best Picture nominees grossed at least $100 million, and the first time in living memory that the Oscar did not go to one of the Top 25 films in North America. In fact, the winner that year — Crash — grossed a mere $54.6 million and ranked way, way down at #49.

Ever since then, the Oscar for Best Picture has alternated between relatively big hits and somewhat smaller box-office performers. But that trend could end this year, as the Academy now seems poised to reward two small films in a row.

Last year, the Oscar went to 12 Years a Slave, which grossed $56.7 million and ranked 62nd among the films of 2013. If the pattern of the past decade holds, then this year’s winner would have to be a much bigger hit than that — but not one of this year’s nominees has earned $60 million or cracked the Top 50 for 2014!

Admittedly, that will probably change very soon. American Sniper, which is currently playing in only four theatres, goes into wide release this weekend, and box-office analysts expect it to gross over $50 million this weekend alone. If it follows the trajectory of last year’s Lone Survivor — another military movie that went wide in mid-January — then it could very easily end up in the Top 25 for the year.

But that doesn’t mean American Sniper will win Best Picture. Crucially, the film’s director, Clint Eastwood, failed to get an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for best director on four previous occasions and winning twice, and despite being nominated for the Directors Guild Award for this particular film.

So, odds are good that American Sniper won’t win Best Picture. And thus, odds are good that this may mark the first time in living memory that the Oscar for Best Picture has gone to relatively low-grossing films for two consecutive years.

As ever, we shall see. For now, here are the nominees, with their current grosses and box-office rankings for the year as of yesterday:

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel — $59,100,318 — 53rd
  • The Imitation Game — $42,776,746 — 75th
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) — $26,601,455 — 94th
  • The Theory of Everything — $26,202,405 — 96th
  • Boyhood — $24,339,423 — 100th
  • Selma — $16,548,467 — 112th
  • Whiplash — $6,154,000 — 138th
  • American Sniper — $3,372,722 — 157th

As before, here are the Best Picture winners (with box-office stats) going back to the year of my birth; I’ll add this year’s winner after it is announced February 22:

2013 — 62 — $56.7 million — 12 Years a Slave
2012 — 22 — $136.0 million — Argo
2011 — 71 — $44.7 million — The Artist
2010 — 18 — $135.5 million — The King’s Speech
2009 — 116 — $17.0 million — The Hurt Locker
2008 — 16 — $141.3 million — Slumdog Millionaire
2007 — 36 — $74.3 million — No Country for Old Men
2006 — 15 — $132.4 million — The Departed
2005 — 49 — $54.6 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

March 2 update: Updated to include the winner for 2013.

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