Oscar Beat: Box Office, Best Picture, and GRAVITY

     October 19, 2013


Though it’s only October, we’re already in the thick of awards season.  We’ve seen frontrunners emerge from the fall festival circuit, and now some of the year’s potential heavy hitters are starting to open in theaters, providing some hard data for the all-important “audience reception” factor in the Oscar race.  Gravity emerged as a potential frontrunner for a number of awards—including Best Picture—when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Venice, and Telluride earlier this year, and now the film can add “box office hit” to its resume, as the pic opened to a record-breaking $55.5 million in its first weekend and only dropped an incredible 21% in its second weekend.

In today’s edition of Oscar Beat, we examine the importance of box office in the Oscar race and what this means for Gravity and the other awards contenders going forward.  Additionally, I update my predictions to reflect movements in the recent weeks.  Hit the jump to read on.

titanic-leonardo-dicaprio-kate-winsletWhen looking at the Oscar race, it’s always important to take into account box office results.  Statistically speaking, a healthy box office total bodes well for a film’s chances.  In fact, in the past 15 years only four Best Picture winners have grossed less than $100 million at the box office, with The Hurt Locker taking the cake as the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner of all time* with a mere $17 million.

This doesn’t mean that Oscar voters only choose successful films for Best Picture, but the Academy does appear take into account how strongly a film hits the zeitgeist.  Movies like Titanic and Forrest Gump saturated pop culture in the 90s, and the Academy took notice.  Consequently, Gravity has taken the top one spot at the box office two weekends in a row with spectacular numbers, and the film is already being parodied on Saturday Night Live.

As Gravity is on pace to take in a rather hefty box office total, the film’s Oscar chances are looking quite good.  Consider this: if Gravity had opened to dismal box office numbers, despite stellar reviews out of the festival circuit and nearly unanimous critical acclaim the film would have taken a bit of a hit with regards to Oscar.  It’s tough for any film to remain at the forefront of Oscar voters’ minds when it opens as early as October, but disappointing box office numbers for a big studio film like Gravity can go a long way to making the film feel forgettable.  Coupled with its critical response, the strong financial success of Gravity is another box to check off on its way towards Oscar.

gravity-sandra-bullock-2Another film that may be benefitting from the box office bump is Paul GreengrassCaptain Phillips.  The pic was singled out as a serious awards contender after it screened to an incredibly positive response at the New York Film Festival, and though it was overshadowed by Gravity a bit in its opening weekend, the film had a strong debut with $26 million.  Subsequent weekends will show how steady Captain Phillips holds, but the R-rated pic skews more heavily towards the adult crowd, so the pic could definitely have strong legs.

Obviously, box office isn’t everything.  Films like The Artist and The English Patient still managed to win the top Oscar prize without breaking the $100 million box office mark, and the massive grosses of Avatar and Inception failed to push those nominees into the winners circle.  But it is important to take box office into account when analyzing the Best Picture field, and Gravity’s strong performance is a good sign for the film’s Oscar chances.  Will it win Best Picture?  It’s still too early to make that call, but it definitely has a shot.

*Adjusting for inflation, of course.

Click over to Page 2 for an updated predictions list and a rundown of the movements in the Oscar race over the past few weeks.

Page 2

  • Mixed Race rich kid NYC

    No Michael b Jordan for fruitvale station
    No mud
    No best director nod for fruitvale station or mud
    12 years a slave receives standing ovation wherever it plays but it’s down for no reason
    Monuments men has more chance to be nominated for 12 years a slave. Why ?
    Because its safe, boring, straightforward… Nazi bad, Americans good even though Russians destroyed more paintings than the Germans but nawwww hollywood can’t afford to have Russia portrayed as bad guys
    A thousands of nazi movies every year but no Stalin Russia even though Stalin was a thousands worst than the whole nazi regime
    But he didnt kill that many Jew, so the Jew in hollywood will miss one opportunity to remind us what t hey went through…
    Everybody should forget slavery or Russia everyday crimes against human right yet hollywood will jump at any opportunities for a “nazi are bad” movie …

    scheindler list win oscars but I’ll be damned if 12 years a slave win oscars also -says hollywood

    • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

      we call that “Lobby” Bobby

    • ScottX

      It’s such a shame Mud’s buzz was lost. It’s still my favorite movie of the year (so far).

  • Mixed Race rich kid NYC

    12 years a slave is a thousand times better than Schindler list yet everyone is looking hard trying to find reasons why it shouldn’t win best picture and best director
    Anything so a black man don’t win best director
    12 years a slave will win best picture, best actor and best director best editing best score and best adapted screenplay
    Deal with it

    • Cooper

      The overrated ’12 years a slave’ will win all major awards and would have won even if the movie sucked because that’s how politically correct Hollywood is. And the “mixed race rich kid” will still be bitching and looking for an excuse to play the race card the day after the Oscars. Deal with it.

      • Nerdgasm

        You didnt explain why you think 12 years a slave is overrated. Did you see it or is this your ill attempt at trying to be a troll? This just makes you sound like a whiny idiot.

    • Excpired

      Think this guy is just a racist Jew-hater tbh. No offense to the Oscars but I’m pretty sure they’d jump at the opportunity to give a win to a black director because liberals love to parade how much they are inclusive, if 12 Years a Slave is as good as you think it is then I’m sure it’ll get a nomination at the very least, I’ve disagreed with several of the Oscars win choices in the past though and they do snub people sometimes, its an Awards ceremony the fact that people take it this seriously is kind of a joke, it doesn’t validate anyone’s work and winning or losing at the Oscars doesn’t make you a good or bad [insert profession here]. Also whats with the WWII themed movie hate? Btw there are plenty of movies about Stalin and the Russians and the Russian-front during WWII, etc. The fact that those movies didn’t go on to make millions in the box-office is why you don’t know about them because reality check Americans don’t give a crap to watch a movie about that (sad as it is to say). Americans want to watch a movie about something they feel connected to which is the war as it relates to Germany and the Jews (since Americans believe they liberated the Jews, even though Russia played a key part in most of the camp liberations), and Americans are connected to the war in Japan which is why there is also a lot of movies about that (which has pretty much nothing to do with Jews so whats your argument for that), lets not forget movies about the Vietnam war which are about just as popular; pretty sure that has nothing to do with Jews. Would you expect Russia to go make a movie about Americas war in Afghanistan? No, they’d make a movie about THEIR war in Afghanistan.

      Of which btw they’ve made hundreds.

    • Walter

      Brad Pitt produced 12 Years a Slave, That stupid guy is unfortunately a big HW player.


  • Emile

    Dallas Buyer Club is gonna be a threat to the Best Picture/Best Direction for sure.

  • Bob

    Pump the breaks. 12 Years is easily the frontrunner right now, Gravity is maybe tied with it. It did not go down at all. Some critics found fault with it???????? Theres only 4 Rotten on RT, it will end with prob the same Rotten as Gravity, maybe one more.

    Best Picture

    12 Years a Slave
    American Hustle
    The Wolf of Wall Street
    Inside Llewyn Davis
    Captain Phillips
    Blue Jasmine

    Almost there

    The Monuments Men
    Saving Mr. Banks
    All is Lost
    Lee Daniel’s The Butler
    August: Osage County

    Random Possibles

    Fruitvale Station
    Before Midnight
    The Counselor

  • Marissa Evans

    I didn’t hear the negative criticism for ’12 Years A Slave’. It’d be nice if it had a wider release so we can judge for ourselves, so as of now, I don’t care.
    To be honest I’d be disappointed if ‘Gravity’ won Best Picture. It was an amazing experience, but the writing just reminded me I was in a crowd-pleasing movie. I don’t know how to explain it, but hopefully people who have seen it know what I mean.

    • peter

      i have seen it and I dont know what you mean sure it has a happy ending but not all movies need to end all gloomy and depressing

    • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

      I’ll try to explain what you mean: #!*%@#^~%&, $# #@&*&^

      Right ?

    • RiddleThemThis

      I finally watched Gravity last night and I have to say I don’t understand what all the hype is about. Don’t get me wrong, its not bad, its just not that great. I found that the first 30 minutes were enjoyable, but obviously that is not long enough for a full length movie. So they just copy and pasted it twice, added a swimming scene and then they were done.

      • mbmarquis69

        One of the problems is that you waited until now (after weeks and weeks of hype) to see it. I nearly always have the same experience when I watch a movie everyone’s been buzzing about. I guess the expectation is too high at that point.

        I was already excited to see Gravity because I am a fan of Cuaron, so I had high hopes going in. The movie blew away those expectations and delivered something much more. I’m glad, though, that I didn’t wait until it was a watercooler juggernaut.

      • RiddleThemThis

        That wasn’t the issue, I was never extremely hyped about the film. I expected it to be decent and it was, it just wasn’t amazing. It was a decent film, but I was not overly impressed with it. Maybe, I’m weird though, as this is coming from someone who did not enjoy the king’s speech.

  • ScottX

    Why is Barkhad Abdi in 5th and 7th place? ¬¬

  • chris

    I have a feeling The Counselor will enter in the conversation and knocks everyone who have forgotten about it. Cormac McCarthy guys, with a cast like that. a director even like Scott can’t go wrong with that if he’s given GREAT GREAT material and resources

  • movieguy223

    Captain Phillips is rated PG-13 actually. Definitely caters to a more mature crowd, but it still is accessible to younger audiences. I hope those in a younger demographic with a more mature movie taste do seek it out though, bound to be a major award contender. Best Picture and Best Actor most likely, Greengass could slip in though I’m not convinced (even though I’d be thrilled).

  • movieguy223

    Also, 12 Years a Slave is far from down. If anything, I definitely think that’s the film to beat, despite how much I adored Gravity. Michael B. Jordan I think should still be a major threat for Best Actor, he could be this year’s Quvenzhané Wallis. Do people seriously think he’s lost steam? Walter Mitty, I agree, may fall to the outside, but Jordan should not be shunted so quickly. Also, Fassbender is a lock. In fact, he could win. The Academy, as much as they love a good campaign (hello, Melissa Leo), they also deliver a surprise or two every now and again like awarding Joaquin Phoenix a very well-deserved Oscar nomination for The Master last year, despite his vocal animosity toward the Oscars as a whole. Phoenix also shouldn’t ruled out for Her, it might be less likely this time around but I still have heard its a wonderfully different performance.

    Plus, Wolf of Wall Street is still very up in the air. I hope Scorsese can get it out before 2013 is over, but does that mean we’ll be getting a cut that sacrifices many of the film’s merits? Will characters be omitted? Will this end up being a very different film than the phenomenal first trailer intended on promoting? There’s a great deal to consider in that corner.

    And in other news, my sadness about Foxcatcher’s delay only increases. See you in 2014!

  • Dave

    Gravity is all style no substance. Shouldn’t even be considered for any awards beyond visual effects.

  • Reality Check

    Gravity is a fucking hype train bros. Terrible plot. Laughably dialogue. Basically a Michael Bay film pulled off with more visual panache and better FX.

  • Adam Chitwood

    A brief clarification re: 12 Years a Slave being “down.”

    I felt I needed to justify why Gravity had overtaken 12 Years a Slave in my Best Picture picks, and did so by stating that in the wide crop of reviews, a few nitpicks have started to creep up for the film (eg. Brad Pitt’s presence being distracting, Zimmer’s score not fitting the film, and oddly a few have taken issue with McQueen’s direction, which for my money is stellar).

    12 Years a Slave is far from dwindling from the race, and right now I see it as a neck-and-neck 2-film race between 12 Years and Gravity. This one is far from over, though. There’s still plenty more Oscar Beat to go, folks.

    • Bob

      Dude what negative critcism are you seen. Its like the same amount as Gravity, less right now actually going by RT. Im like 95% sure by the time Oscar nominations come both 12 years and Gravity will have 7-9 rotten reviews max. Thats like almost nothing, like thats amazing. 12 Years has not gone down at all. I would say 12 Years is still in the lead cause Gravity is sci-fi and 12 Years subject is way more important to the Academy.

    • Bob

      And yea I agree though, pretty much right now 12 Years vs Gravity with 12 Years wining imo but we still have American Hustle, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street and more.

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  • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

    we all know this is a porn site. thanks for sharing with us

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