erik lundegaard

Who Sees the Oscar Nominees Anyway?

I didn’t see this until yesterday but Brandon Gray of boxofficemojo.com has a good piece on one of my favorite topics — box office and Oscar — and comes to the conclusion that this is not only a weak year in terms of attendance, it’s the worst year ever. I assume he’s parsing this the French way — asses in the seats, not inflationary dollars in the pockets — but that’s an astounding stat. Not surprising, though. It’s a week after the noms and where are our nominees in terms of 2008 box-office rankings? At 20 (“Button”), 53 (“Slumdog”), 109 “(“Milk”), 131 (“F/N”) and 143 (“The Reader”). Obviously this will change, and for the better, but, by way of comparison, only two films nominated for best picture since 1980 haven’t landed among the top 100 box-office films of the year: “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2006 (138th) and “Secrets and Lies” in 1996 (108th). “The Dresser” in 1983 came close (100th).

Gray comes to this conclusion about Oscar and box office:
Slumdog Millionaire was a snowballing success prior to the Oscar nominations and Gran Torino, which received zero nominations for instance, was a hit, and neither picture's status fundamentally changed after the nominations were announced.
He also mentions in passing the b.o. difficulties of “Frost/Nixon” but no one seems to be taking Universal to task for this. When the movie had buzz in December, Universal kept it limited (205 theaters). After the noms, they opened it wider (1,000+ theaters), but by then it had been overshadowed by both “Button” and “Slumdog,” and word-of-mouth wasn’t great, and people stayed away. Maybe they would’ve anyway. Who knows? But Universal pushed it for the Oscars, and then relied on the Oscars to push it to the public. Didn’t work.

In better news, Focus Features, a Universal subsidiary on life-support, finally opened “Milk,” one of the best films of the year, wider. It plays in 882 theaters today. About effin’ time. Yet it's still the only best pic nominee not to play in at least 1,000 theaters.

Posted at 07:44 AM on Fri. Jan 30, 2009 in category Movies - The Oscars, Movies - Box Office  
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