Has the Academy of Motion Arts and Pictures shifted its focus to awarding more popular movies rather than smaller, adult-focused and niche independent movies? The box-office data might tell the story.
For this year’s “Oscars” awards nominations, the top ten pictures grossed $1.57 billion -- the highest-grossing slate of movies at the time of nomination, according to Comscore.
This was largely accelerated at the end of 2022, pushed by the major success of “Avatar: The Way of Water”.
To date, the Disney/20th Century Studios release has earned $2.05 billion globally, with $603.4 million coming from U.S./Canada business.
This year's Oscar film total tops the $1.52 billion for 2009 films at the time the nominations were announced in February 2010. Those films released went on to earn a collective $1.73 billion.
Not so coincidentally, 2009 was the year featuring the original “Avatar” -- which went on to become the highest-grossing global box-office revenue movie, totaling $2.9 billion.
Two of the five highest-grossing domestic movies in 2022 -- Paramount Pictures' “Top Gun: Maverick” ($718.3 million) and “Avatar: The Way of Water” ($602 million) --received nominations.
Those two movies alone suggest academy members might be thinking differently about big, wide-release theatrical movies when casting their votes -- a noticeable shift from the academy's recent focus on awarding smaller, adult-focused, and niche independent movies.
Farther down the Oscar Best Picture nomination list after “Top Gun” and “Avatar” are Warner Bros.' “Elvis” ($151.4 million) in 12th place for the year, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” ($70.9 million) in 27th place, and “The Fabelmans” ($15.1 million) in 67th place.
The major box-office 2022 movies that did not get a best picture nomination include Disney's “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” ($452.1 million), Disney's “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($411.3 million), and Universal Pictures' “Jurassic World: Dominion” ($376.9 million).
What does this mean going forward? For this year, anyway -- although the industry is still reeling to an extent from the crushing impact of 2020, when theaters were closed -- things could be looking up for the movie industry. All this will give movies much-needed promotion and advertising now and through the Oscars awards broadcast on March 12.
There were concerns that small and more independent adult-skewing films will take a back seat -- but that does not seem likely. This year there are still a number of smaller movies making the list: “Triangle of Sadness,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Tar,” and “Women Talking,” to name a few.
If history is any judge (pre-pandemic history, that is) -- big, action-adventure, sci-fi, and fantasy movies will continue to find a way to reach the still-strong audience of mostly younger movie consumers in search of immediate gratification and easily accessible storylines.
Now ask yourself -- regardless of award hardware coming by way of “popular” movies -- whether theatrical movies can find some new marketing ground to regain their big revenue-producing profile, which reeled in a record $11.9 billion in 2018.
For the “Oscars” awards TV event itself, there will continue to be an endemic problem going forward -- a marketing vehicle. It still caters to an older moviegoing crowd.
Is there any room -- and hope -- to expand that to a younger crowd with less action-filled movie content? And does that even matter?
The Oscars need to have more mainstream movies was glad to see Top Gun got a nom. The problem with The Oscars is that I only see one movie that gets the nom just not into the smaller and Indy Films that win Oscars.