Universal rules the box office and the Oscars

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The Future. Universal was the most financially successful studio at the box office in 2023 and the studio that won the most Oscars this past weekend — the first time that has happened this century. Don’t be surprised if every studio in Hollywood pivots to follow Universal’s strategy and releases a lot of movies in varied genres… ending a decade of over-reliance on past franchises.

Winning slate
How good of a year has Universal had?

  • It sold almost $5 billion in tickets thanks to a mix of massive hits like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Oppenheimer, and Five Nights at Freddy’s, and smaller successes like Cocaine Bear and Asteroid City.
  • It’s the first time a studio has beat Disney at the box office in eight years… and may repeat it by releasing 19 films in cinemas this year (more than any other studio).
  • And with Oppenheimer taking home Best Picture, it’s both the first from a legacy studio in a decade and the first one to make over $100 million at the domestic box office since Argo in 2013.

What’s Universal’s secret sauce? Studio head Donna Langley is known for taking creative risks and signing top talent like Steven Spielberg, Jordan Peele, and the Daniels to rich deals that keep them on the lot and away from competitors.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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