‘American Fiction’, ‘Poor Things’ & ‘Zone Of Interest’ To Reap Oscar Halo Effect At Box Office; Best Pics At $2.7B WW, Down From 2023

It’s been going on for a while, and it’s been even worse post-pandemic, but the Oscar halo effect for Best Picture nominees has diminished greatly.

Even though most of this year’s Best Picture contenders are available in the home, there are three in an exclusive theatrical release which look to make gains by Oscar night, March 10: Amazon MGM’s American Fiction ($7.95M domestic in week 6, five noms), Searchlight’s Poor Things ($20.4M domestic, $33.8M WW, in week 7, 11 noms) and A24’s Zone of Interest ($1.55M in week 6, 5 noms). For some studios, playing off the heat of Oscar nominations is still a business.

This Friday, American Fiction will jump from 850 theaters to north of 1,500 locations. There’s a possibility that the movie could double its current running total by the time winners are announced. Zone of Interest will move from 82 theaters to around 300 sites. Poor Things is currently playing at 1,400 theaters, the widest it has been following its Dec. 8 which notched the third best first weekend theater average ($73K) of 2023.

American Fiction, Poor Things and Zone of Interest haven’t set in-home digital/DVD or streaming dates yet, which will further help their ticket sales.

Last year, Amazon MGM’s ultimate Oscar winning Women Talking made the biggest gains between noms and Oscar night on March 12, 2023 moving its running total from $1.2M to $5.38M, a +344% swell. Quite often its the arthouse titles that post crazy gains versus major studio fare that’s also available in the home. Outside of Women Talking, six other titles that were still in theaters last Oscar season — Avatar: The Way of Water, Fabelmans, Tar, Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once and Triangle of Sadness— saw an average uptick in their total domestic B.O. of +11% by the time trophies were handed out.

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“On behalf of movie theatre owners across the United States and around the world, we celebrate the ten films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards,” says NATO President & CEO Michael O’Leary today in a statement. “The diversity on display is a testament to what a great year 2023 was for people who love to watch movies on the big screen. Combined, the Best Picture nominees have brought in an incredible $2.7 billion in box office globally. This is an exciting moment for all the moviegoers around the world who are experiencing these films the way they were meant to be seen at their local theatres.”

That current total sum of $2.7 billion is off from the total final global box office of last year’s ten Oscar Best Picture noms which ended their theatrical run at $4.4 billion. It’s unlikely by early March we’ll catch up to that figure. Essentially 87% of last year’s overall Best Picture nom box office was repped by Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick. Top Gun 2 made all its cash before Oscar noms, while Avatar 2, which was still in theaters during its Oscar season, though played out from its Christmas release, saw an 11% jump in its total B.O. from nom days ($601.99M) and Oscar night ($674.6M). This year, Barbie and Oppenheimer rep 90% of this year’s Best Pictures Nominees’ total worldwide box office — all minted before noms.

That said, most studios re-release their Best Picture Nominees in theaters with major support from exhibition. However, given these pics’ availability in the home, don’t expect much at the box office. This morning, No. 2 circuit Regal announced their Best Picture Film Festival, taking place Friday, March 1, through Sunday, March 10. Tickets for nominated films are $6 at participating locations with a special $5 admission price and $7 concession combo available to Regal Crown Club members.

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Warner Bros.’ is re-releasing Barbie back in theaters; the eight Oscar nominated Greta Gerwig directed title already on Max. The movie, at $1.44 billion WW ($636.2M domestic), is not only the highest grossing title of 2023, but the biggest in Warner Bros. history.

Oppenheimer, with 13 nominations, which has been on digital and DVD since November, hits Peacock on Feb. 16. However, on Friday it’s going back out in 1,100 runs comprised of 300 + Imax screens, 12 Imax 70mm screens, and 18 standard 70mm screens. At $952.9M WW ($326.9M domestic), it’s the third highest grossing movie of last year.

Apple Original Films’ Killers of the Flower Moon via Paramount, is going back in more than 800 theaters on Friday. Apple’s first big wide release in movie theaters stands at $67.3M domestic, $156.3M WW after a fall release; and it’s already playing on Apple TV+. The Martin Scorsese directed title is up for ten Oscar noms.

NEON’s Anatomy of a Fall, also a Cannes Palme d’Or winner, hit cinemas stateside on Oct. 13 and made $3.95M domestic, $23.1M worldwide. The movie counts five noms. The Justine Triet directed movie will return to 350 theaters this Friday. Anatomy of a Fall is already available on digital and has been in the top 10 on iTunes for the last month.

A24’s Past Lives with two nominations was an arthouse hit last summer with $10.9M, and $22.7M worldwide. It hit digital/DVD on Sept. 19.

Focus Features’ The Holdovers ($18.7M domestic, $26.2M WW) with five noms, will likely in the Uni classic label’s fashion re-release on the big screen. It’s already playing on Peacock.

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Netflix’s Maestro is currently playing on the streaming service since Dec. 20. The Bradley Cooper starring and directed drama about Leonard Bernstein counts seven noms. We’ll update you with its theatrical re-release plans. Netflix never reports its box office grosses.

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