Best Picture Oscar Nominees Are Split Between the Box Office Haves and Have-Nots (2023)

Three films among last year’s top 15 highest grossing films were nominated while three others combined for less than $30 million domestic

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“The Way of Water” and “Maverick,” of course, are the highest grossing films of the year, combining for over $1.3 billion domestic and nearly $3.5 billion worldwide. “Elvis” is farther down the list with $151 million domestic and $287 million global, but it was able to reignite interest in its legendary subject and drive consistent turnout from moviegoers over the age of 50.

But on the other end of the spectrum are Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin,” and Todd Field’s “Tár” — three films that were critically acclaimed festival darlings and have, combined, grossed less than $30 million in North America. Joining them from the arthouse scene are Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking,” which is currently in theaters in limited release with $1.1 million grossed; Ruben Ostlund’s Palme D’Or winner “Triangle of Sadness,” which grossed $4.2 million domestic last fall, and Edward Berger’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which is a Netflix streaming exclusive.

“Fabelmans” and “Inisherin,” in particular, show how much prestige films have fallen off in terms of theatrical performance when compared to past Spielberg and McDonagh films that got Oscar recognition.

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In 2018, Spielberg’s historical thriller “The Post” grossed $81 million domestic and $193 million worldwide, starting with a limited release during the holiday season before expanding to 2,850 theaters in mid-January.

Best Picture Oscar Nominees Are Split Between the Box Office Haves and Have-Nots (2)

“The Fabelmans,” by contrast, has grossed just $14.9 million in North America and needs a strong overseas run in the coming weeks to even make back its $40 million production budget.

Spielberg’s autobiographical drama is the sort of reliable, accessible adult fare that could make a decent amount of money even in the late 2010s, but its screen count never exceeded 1,200 theaters. Its five-day Thanksgiving weekend total of $3.1 million from 638 theaters was beaten by the $4.2 million earned by the Tom Hanks dramedy “A Man Called Otto” when it had almost the same screen count in early January.

Boxoffice editor Daniel Loria believes the slower release rollout that Universal attempted didn’t help “The Fabelmans,” but also believes that the film’s premise didn’t align with what audiences want even in an accessible adult drama.

“Even before the pandemic, I think Spielberg making a movie about his childhood would have been a harder sell than ‘The Post’ or ‘Bridge of Spies,'” he said. “Those films had a thriller element that make them more appealing to audiences than a quiet film about Spielberg’s family and how he got into filmmaking.”

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In November 2017, McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” had a $5.8 million Thanksgiving weekend total and legged out to $54.5 million in North America. The film never cracked the top 5 on the box office charts or had a screen count of more than 1,620 theaters, but it didn’t need to. It was able to maintain low but steady turnout all the way through Oscar Sunday, the sort that awards contenders aim to have when they hit theaters in early November.

But in a post-COVID world the shortening of the theatrical window, the declining interest in seeing prestige films in theaters, and the plummeting cultural relevance of awards shows have quickly sapped away all the factors that allowed a film like “Three Billboards” to find box office success. “The Banshees of Inisherin” has shown that, with a maximum screen count of just under 900 theaters and a peak weekend total of just $2 million.

Best Picture Oscar Nominees Are Split Between the Box Office Haves and Have-Nots (4)

Released in late October, “Inisherin” was essentially finished in U.S. theaters by Thanksgiving, grossing $9.3 million domestic. Like “The Fabelmans,” Searchlight will try to find some extra theatrical revenue from overseas moviegoers with a post-Oscar nomination international rollout in markets like Italy, Spain, Brazil and Scandinavia. But even in the U.K. and Ireland, where the film had its best performance, its $11.3 million total failed to reach the $20.9 million of “Three Billboards.”

The market for the sort of critically acclaimed dramas that regularly make the Best Picture list has continued to get squeezed from all sides, with studios struggling to figure out how to market such high-brow affair — or even middlebrow in the case of “Fabelmans” — to an audience that’s more comfortable with seeing such films on streaming or digital on-demand. And with the Oscars losing their cultural clout, even that audience may be shrinking as well.

“Once you cut off that theatrical window, you take away the time that films like ‘Inisherin’ need to build the word-of-mouth to make them theatrically successful. That’s how someone who saw a film in platform release in L.A. tells their Middle America relatives over the holidays that they should see when it comes to theaters where they live,” Loria said.

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Ironically, the one Best Picture contender that defies categorization between major studio, wide release hit, and struggling prestige title is the one that got the most nominations: Daniels’ “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which this past spring became the first A24 release to gross over $100 million worldwide.

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s genre-bending film didn’t top the end-of-year charts but punched well above its indie weight class thanks purely to organic word-of-mouth. Released wide in April 2022, well outside the usual awards season release period, it didn’t need Oscar buzz to draw interest. Rather, like “Top Gun: Maverick,” it got Oscar buzz because of its widespread popularity, something that regularly happened before mainstream and Academy voter tastes dramatically diverged.

While there was already some mass appeal, wide release offerings on the 2023 slate that might find their way onto next year’s nominee list — Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” come to mind — there’s no guarantee that a film like “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Everything Everywhere” will prove to be both a box office success and a major awards player.

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What’s more certain, given recent history and the tastes of the Academy, is that a film from Toronto or Venice will get that nomination. Maybe it will be Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” or Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro.” Maybe it will be another buzzy festival title that isn’t currently on anyone’s radar.

But when it comes time for that type of film to hit theaters, all signs point to it yielding the box office scraps that “The Fabelmans” earned rather than the modestly successful Best Picture winners of recent pre-pandemic memory.

“The new formula that studios and distributors have put together coming out of the pandemic isn’t working for these kinds of festival movies,” Loria said. “It’s the system that has come together in response to streaming demand and to getting audiences in theaters for more populist films, but the more artistic and thought-provoking stuff is getting left behind.”

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FAQs

How did James McAvoy not win an award for split? ›

Originally Answered: Why was James Mcavoy not nominated for an Oscar for his acting in the movie SPLIT? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences collectively liked five acting performances more than James McAvoy's in Split (2016) , and so they didn't nominate him.

Did the split win any awards? ›

No, the movie Split did not win any Oscars. However, the San Diego Film Critic Awards honored James McAvoy with an award for best actor for his role as The Horde, a man with 23 distinctive personalities.

What movies were nominated for Best Picture in 2023? ›

The 10 movies up for best picture are: “Everything Everywhere All at Once,”“The Banshees of Inisherin,” “The Fabelmans,” “Tár,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Elvis,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Women Talking” and “Triangle of Sadness.”

Why is Split not a good representation of DID? ›

Movie 'Split' Does Harm to People with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Experts Say. The film “Split” depicts a violent kidnapper with dissociative identity disorder. Experts say it's not an accurate portrayal of people living with the illness.

Does Split portray DID well? ›

Even though it is a horror film, a thriller meant to entertain and not to document, Split should be held to the common standard of not causing harm to DID sufferers. Because of the violent depiction of Kevin's identity, some DID sufferers might, and do, feel they are portrayed wrongly.

What happens in The Split series 1? ›

Hannah and Nathan's marriage was rocked in series one when he was forced to confess to having had an affair arranged through hacked extra-marital 'dating' site Indiana Ray.

What happens at the end of a Split? ›

And in the present of the ending, Dennis/the Beast's thinking is crystallized because they chose the other two girls to be food; they were 'impure' due to the fact that they never 'suffered' in life. Their untroubled childhoods and happiness were why he stalked and ultimately killed them.

Why DID a separation win an Oscar? ›

The film won the Oscar for best foreign feature in 2012 — Iran's first film to do so — and also garnered Farhadi a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which is highly unusual for a foreign-language film. It's both a political statement and a small, devastating family drama.

Who is the only man to win 3 Best Actor Oscars? ›

Six have won exactly three acting Academy Awards: Daniel Day-Lewis (three Best Actor awards), Frances McDormand (three Best Actress awards), Meryl Streep (two Best Actress awards and one Best Supporting Actress award), Jack Nicholson (two Best Actor awards and one Best Supporting Actor award), Ingrid Bergman (two Best ...

What is the longest movie to win Best Picture? ›

1. 'Gone with the Wind' (1940) – 233 minutes.

What are the only 3 films to win the Big 5 Oscars? ›

In the past 90 years, only three films, It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) have won all five Oscars from the forty-three films that secured nominations in all five prestige Academy Award categories.

DID James McAvoy win any awards for the movie Split? ›

James McAvoy

DID James McAvoy not get a script for my son? ›

James McAvoy took a very unique approach to his performance in My Son. During filming for director and co-writer Christian Carion's remake of his own 2017 French film, McAvoy was the only member of the cast to not be given a script.

What condition does James McAvoy have in Split? ›

Split is a 2016 American psychological thriller film written, directed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan, and starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Betty Buckley. The film follows a man with dissociative identity disorder who kidnaps and imprisons three teenage girls in an isolated underground facility.

What are the weaknesses of the movie Split? ›

The issues are found in how good the beginning of the movie is, how bad the middle is, and how tolerable the ending is. Split is incredibly inconsistent in camera movement, soundtrack, story, tone and message, all resulting in a very muddy movie which will leave audience members more puzzled than anything.

How many personalities DID Split have? ›

Jackson's characters from his 2000 film, "Unbreakable." It also introduces both of them to James McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb from "Split." McAvoy's performance became a standout of 2017 for playing a young man with dissociative identity disorder who has 24 different personalities.

Why DID Kevin have DID in Split? ›

Kevin was abused by his mother as a child causing psychological malfunctions. He developed alter egos to protect his sanity from the emotional and physical abuse. This shedding of personalities is diagnosed as dissociative identity disorder.

What are the 24 personalities in Split? ›

They are: Heinrich, Mary Reynolds, Norma, Goddard, Bernice, Polly, Luke, Rakel, Felicia, Ansel, Jelin, Kat, B.T, Samuel, Ian and Mr. Pritchard. However, we do not actually meet any of them during Split.

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