The Oscars get back to blockbusters
The Future. A handful of the biggest hit movies of the year (and an indie sensation) are vying for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture. That is likely a huge sigh of relief for The Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences (AMPAS), which has been desperate to get mainstream movies back in the awards conversation. The 2023 awards could demonstrate either a renewed interest in awards shows among Americans due to popular movie nominations or the decline in cultural significance of such shows.
That summer feeling
Some of this year’s Best Picture nominees have the unique distinction of actually making some serious money.
- Top Gun: Maverick roared into the theaters last Memorial Day weekend and racked up $1.49 billion at the box office, prompting many “movies are back, baby!” think pieces.
- Elvis showed that The King is still the king with a box office haul of $287 million and a star-making turn for Austin Butler.
- Everything Everywhere All at Once came out back in March but built momentum to score $100 million worldwide (now A24’s highest-grossing film).
- Avatar: The Way of Water demonstrated yet again that James Cameron’s only competition is himself, scoring $2.27 billion — making it the third-highest-grossing movie ever.
While the past couple of decades of Best Picture nominees has been pretty blockbuster-lite, 2019’s batch did include Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, and A Star Is Born… and then the pandemic hit.
Why does it matter if Best Picture nominees also had big box-office grosses? Well, popular films may have a direct correlation to how many people actually watch the Oscars.
- Viewership has been almost consistently declining for several years, with only 15.36 million Americans watching the show last year.
- For context, 43.7 million watched the awards in 2014.
The Academy knows that spells trouble for the organization, which relies heavily on ad revenue from the show (airing this Sunday on ABC) for most of its revenue. Heck, it even tried to introduce an “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” award in 2018 before it was lambasted out of existence.
Hopefully, this year’s awards will turn things around.