The Oscars box office bump is shrinking

  • Hollywood’s changing release schedule and reliance on streaming have weighed on the once-large Oscars box office bump.
  • Since the nominations were announced in late January, the top 10 nominees have added $82 million in domestic box office sales, including $71 million from “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
  • However, Best Picture nominations have boosted demand on the streaming side.
  • The Oscars ceremony is scheduled for Sunday evening.

Michelle Yeoh in “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once”.

Source: imdb

The best picture winner at Sunday’s Oscars may not be rewarded at the box office for taking home the biggest prize of the night.

It’s part of the evolution of Hollywood. The Covid pandemic and the rise of streaming have fundamentally changed the industry. The result was a smaller box office bump at nominations time and a significant boost in streaming demand.

From late January nominations through Wednesday, this year’s top 10 nominees added $82 million in domestic box office sales, including $71 million from “Avatar: The Way of Water.” (“The Way of Water” has grossed over $670 million in total in North America.)

For comparison, in 2020, the nominees generated nearly $750 million at the domestic box office after being nominated in mid-January, according to Comscore data. The Oscars were awarded on February 9 of that year, weeks before Covid was declared a pandemic and the shutdowns began.

“Many of this year’s contenders came out earlier in the release schedule and were therefore ‘played’ in terms of their ability to generate Oscar bonus dollars in theaters,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

In the past, movies like ‘1917’, ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ – which were simply nominated for the award – generated 50% or more of their domestic box office revenue after earning nods. , according to data from Comscore. . For 2014’s “American Sniper,” 99% of its box office ticket sales came after its nomination, or $346 million.

All but one of the top nominees saw less than 13% of post-nomination box office revenue this year. “Women Talking,” one of the smallest films in the running for the top prize, earned 77% of its revenue after nominations, or about $3.9 million, according to Comscore data.

“The Oscar bump is not a new phenomenon,” said Brandon Katz, industry strategist at Parrot Analytics. “For decades we’ve seen contenders sell extra tickets at the box office once photo nominations have been announced. But that’s changed more recently, especially since the Oscars took place a month later than usual in recent years and they’ve been impacted by Covid, is a streaming bump.”

Parrot Analytics determined that the top 10 nominees saw an average increase in audience demand of 21% in the week after receiving the coveted nomination. This demand metric is calculated by looking at consumption, including piracy, social media posts and interactions, social video views, and online search on sites like IMDb and Wikipedia.

Much of this demand has likely manifested itself in streaming. Only six of the top 10 photo nominees released comparable box office data within a week of the nominations being released.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” had the biggest percentage increase between the week before the nominations and the weeks after, with ticket sales jumping 381%. However, this represents a jump of $73,000 in box office receipts to $352,000.

Over the weekend, fellow nominees ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, ‘The Fabelmans’, ‘Tar’, ‘Triangle of Sadness’ and ‘Women Talking’ each generated less than $1 million in revenue. ticket sales despite significant increases in audience traffic.

Only ‘Avatar: The Way of the Water,’ which saw ticket sales drop 21% over the weekend after nominations, generated more than $1 million, or $15.9 million in revenue national.

The staggering difference has a lot to do with the release date of these films, their availability on streaming platforms, and the genres of the films.

Blockbuster ‘The Way of Water’ was in its sixth week in theaters and has been gaining momentum at the box office, while ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ has just returned to the big screen after a hiatus from almost six months of cinemas.

Notably, by the time the nominations were revealed, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” had already been on the minds of audiences for nearly a year. The film was released at the end of March 2022.

Traditionally, Oscar-bait films release in the last quarter of the year, with the majority hitting theaters in November and December. For this year’s nominees, only three debuted in the final two months of last year.

In the past, the Academy Awards took place in February, so even movies released in October might still have played exclusively in theaters if the pandemic hadn’t pushed the event into March.

Yet this year, at the time of the nominations in late January, eight of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture were available to stream. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Katz said.

“For the past two years, everyone’s been saying: movie theaters versus streaming. I’ve never seen it like that,” Katz said. “I don’t necessarily think the data supports that. I actually think those two supports can be additive and complementary and not opposed.”

Katz noted that some films get a box office boost from the nomination, but the availability of streaming titles can build buzz and momentum during the latter part of the voting period.

“Obviously it’s hard to argue with the dollar sign and the box office numbers,” said Parrot Analytics analyst Wade Payson-Denney. “But that’s only part of the equation these days. Streaming plays such a big role.”

“All Quiet on the Western Front” generated the biggest surge in demand, up 59% in the week after its Best Picture nomination. The film ran for a limited time in theaters, just long enough to spark controversy at the Oscars, before hitting home on Netflix. The fact that the movie was only available for streaming is probably the reason why it saw the biggest surge in demand.

This also explains why there is no box office data for the film.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, “Avatar: The Way of the Water” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” the biggest box office hits of 2022, saw demand plummet.

For “Maverick,” the drop in demand is likely due to the fact that the film has been released in public since May and has been available for streaming since late December. “The Way of Water” is still in theaters and won’t be available to stream until the end of this month. Those who wanted to see these movies either had plenty of time to do so or saw them so recently that they didn’t feel the need to watch them again or pirate them.

“Sunday’s telecast will serve as a three-plus-hour infomercial showcasing the year’s most notable films and performances,” Dergarabedian said. “This should translate into an increased desire for viewers to seek out these films at home.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal distributed “1917” and “The Fablemans”.

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