erik lundegaard

Best Picture Box Office: Yeah Yeah, 'American Sniper': But Which Film Did Best Overseas?

2014 best picture nominees

First, how great is it that the Oscar race is coming down to two artistic, independent and original movies like “Boyhood” and “Birdman”? I've been thinking about this all week and wanted to reiterate it here as a kind of thank you to the cinematic (or Academic) universe, before delving into the dirt of the numbers. 

Second, a mea culpa on my post-Oscar nomination, um, post, “The Bad Box Office of the Best Picture Nominees,” in which I worried over the low, low box office of the nominees, adding, “I could see 'Imitation Game' gaining some moviegoers.” (I was right.) “Will they expand 'Birdman'?” (They did, barely.) “Will they re-release 'Whiplash'?” (Dunno.) And finally:

“Are people psyched to see 'American Sniper' now? Will its distributor let folks outside NYC and LA see it?”

Five days later, it had grossed more than $100 million and counting. It will probably be the biggest box-office hit of 2014. So ... culpa from mea.

Even with that sudden turnaround, though, the Oscar box office numbers are down. 2009 was the first year since World War II with more than five best picture nominees—when they Academy, trying to boost ratings, went from five nominees to 10. A few years later, they opted for 5 to 10. Here's what that b.o. has looked like:

Year No. Films Total Gross Avg. Gross High Low
2009 10 $1.7 billion $170 m Avatar: $749 A Serious Man: $9
2010 10 $1.3 billion $135 m Toy Story 3: $415 Winter's Bone: $6.5
2011 9 $628 million $69 m The Help: $169 The Tree of Life: $13
2012 9 $1 billion $111 m Lincoln: $182 Amour: $6.7
2013 9 $813 million $90 m Gravity: $274 Nebraska: $17
2014 8 $620 million $77 m American Sniper: $319 Whiplash: $11

Huge blockbusters the first few years with this format. Then a tapering off.

2014's numbers will continue to rise a bit, maybe another $30-$50 million, mostly on the back of “American Sniper.” So it won't be the worst total b.o. since 2009. But close. 

And it will certainly be the most lopsided. Even “Avatar,” the most dominant box-office hit of all time (unadjusted), didn't dominate its fellow nominees the way “Sniper” has done this year. Eastwood's flick has grossed $319 million domestically. The other seven movies combined? $301 million. 

Here are the numbers, with worldwide gross (domestic + foreign), along with the non-UK foreign market where it's made the most money:

Picture Domestic Worldwide Big Foreign Mkt.
American Sniper $319,607,000 $428,107,000 Italy
The Imitation Game $83,921,000 $160,840,682 Australia/ Italy
The Grand Budapest Hotel $59,100,318 $174,600,318 France/Australia
Selma $49,598,000 $53,598,000 Italy
Birdman $37,733,000 $73,333,000 Australia/ Italy
The Theory of Everything $34,145,000 $104,145,000 Italy/ S. Korea
Boyhood $25,295,600 $44,438,600 Germany/ Neth.
Whiplash $11,330,000 $12,231,092 Turkey

How great that “The Grand Budapest Hotel” did better abroad than any other best picture nominee—even “Sniper”? Little Wes Anderson and his quirky characters. Who knew? Bravo, too, Germany and the Netherlands for the “Boyhood” support. 

See you in a few hours. 

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Posted at 01:14 PM on Sun. Feb 22, 2015 in category Movies - The Oscars  

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