The Oscars are increasingly separated from the box office: from Titanic to Avatar

The 2023 Oscars ceremony left us one more year with a nondescript gala, where the favorite films in the pool won the prizes. Some favourites, yes, that this year especially drew attention due to the lack of titles with a special pull and even repercussions at the box office.

Avatar: The Sense of Water and Top Gun Maverick They stood out as representatives of the blockbusters among the 10 titles nominated, but without either of them having at any time any ticket to take the statuette. Finally, Everything at once everywhere It was the best film of 2023 for the Academy.

The best movie of the year? The most striking? Did you have any preference for the impulse to represent new cultures, visions in the face of the evident historical tendency from which the Academy is trying to be shaken? Who knows. We’re not here for that, but we are here to verify the ever-widening gap between the box office results and the results of the Oscars. Something that is surely also making the gala itself and its winners less and less interested.

We will do it with data. The following graph shows the evolution since titanic (1997) up to the present year, showing the collection of the film awarded as best film at the Oscars:

The trend is clear. From the titanic by James Cameron, which was the highest grossing film in history until the arrival of the first installment of Avatar and after the cycle Avengers: Endgame from Marvel, to the meager collections of the award-winning film this year, codawhich barely had a circumstantial passage through the rooms, parasites either Green Bookthe two award-winning films prior to the context change caused by the pandemic.

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Only gladiatorand the third tape of The Lord of the rings (The return of the King) —whose award at the time was seen as a check on account of the entire trilogy— appear as important milestones. But among the rest of the titles, the trend is bearish.

Causes there are many. The effects of the pandemic on attendance in theaters is the most evident, in addition to the arrival of streaming platforms. streaming. But the separation between box office and Academy Awards is also evidenced by the comments and tug of war that, for example, have surfaced around superhero movies.

If it were possible to mark a turning point, that would surely be 2009, when Avatar —that she did see herself as a favorite at that moment— she knelt before The Hurt Locker.

A Round Trip: Winning the Oscar Doesn’t Make People Run to the Movies Anymore

However, this is also causing a trip in reverse. Winning films also do not arouse much interest now once they have been awarded or nominated.

From the announcement of the nominations at the end of January to the awards gala, this year’s 10 best picture nominees grossed $82 million at the box office in United States. Of that amount, 71 million came from Avatar: The Sense of Water. For more context, the movie has grossed over $2.2 billion globally.

For comparison, in 2020, before the pandemic, the nominees generated around $201 million at the US box office after being nominated in mid-January. The Oscars were delivered on February 9 of that year, weeks before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and the confinements began.

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A completely different scenario from what was experienced in the past. For example, movies like 1917, hidden figures and The good side of thingswhich were only nominated for the award, generated 50% or more of their box office receipts after earning a nomination.

This year, all but one of the best picture nominees earned less than 13% of post-nomination box office receipts. They speak, one of the lowest-budget films, up for the top prize, generated 77% of its revenue after nominations. That is, about 3.9 million dollars.

It is probable that a large part of this demand has been transferred to the streaming and rental options. But even with everything, the evolution is there, separating the Academy from the public even more, on a journey that takes each of them years on different paths.

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