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Oscar’s Hit Parade

Written by: FFT Webmaster | February 18th, 2011

Tribeca Film Newsletter

Oscars thumb Oscar’s Hit Parade
By Nathaniel Rogers
Where did this year’s cream of the crop weigh in? A la The Fighter, let’s assign the Best Pic contenders a class and rate the blows to the box office.

Let’s test your memory. Do you recall those annual articles that popped up every single year decrying “The Academy is Out of Touch!” because of neglected blockbusters? No? Well, neither does the media. This year’s Best Picture lineup is quite a popular field, but nobody is congratulating the Academy voters by writing reversal articles like “The Academy is Totally Relevant Again!” Sometimes you have to feel for the Academy. The truth is that people just like to complain.

Journalists lazily hit that “Out of Touch!” button each and every January until just recently. The hostility peaked two years ago when The Dark Knight (2008) and the classic Pixar WALL•E (2008) both performed spectacularly with audiences and critics, but were left out of Best Picture in favor of traditional Oscar bait like political biopics and Holocaust movies.

The very next year, the Academy announced they were returning to the 10-nominee format, which hadn’t been used since the early 1940s. The common perception was that they were doing it to give blockbusters a better chance, even though blockbusters have always been part of the Oscars. We were all just experiencing collective amnesia after a short drought of big hits.

Average Gross of Best Picture Nominee Field
2001 (The year of A Beautiful Mind) $123 million
2002 (The year of Chicago) $132 million
2003 (The year of The Lord of The Rings) $145 million
2004 (The year of Million Dollar Baby) $80 million
2005 (The year of Crash) $49 million
2006 (The year of The Departed) $59 million
2007 (The year of No Country For Old Men)  $71 million
2008 (The year of Slumdog Millionaire) $70 million
*The switch to ten nominees*
2009 (The year of The Hurt Locker) $170 million
2010 (The year of ???) $126 million (at the time of this writing)

As you can see here in snapshot format, once they switched to ten nominees, the average gross rose dramatically. But going a little further back, you’ll see that it hasn’t actually changed all that much; Oscar has always voted for popular films which also, and here is the key point, were serious-minded “artistic” efforts. It’s just that for a few consecutive years, there weren’t enough of those films available. All things are cyclical, and the public and the Oscars appear to be sharing tubs of popcorn again….Read More

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