November 30, 2015 | Updated at 08:46 PM EST The Latest Entertainment & Celebrity News

Best Picture Contenders Produce $2 Billion Box Office Bounty

The movie studios behind this year's Best Picture nominees already have brought home a treasured prize: big box-office sales that placed the Oscar contenders among the most-watched films of 2012.

By Lisa Richwine, Reuters on Feb 21, 2013 09:39 AM EST
facebook tweet this pin it plus
Sign Up for Newsletter
Spielberg Producing 'Halo' Series For Xbox Live
The acclaimed director is taking his talents to the gaming world for the upcoming Halo television series. (Photo : Reuters)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The movie studios behind this year's Best Picture nominees already have brought home a treasured prize: big box-office sales that placed the Oscar contenders among the most-watched films of 2012.

The nine competitors for Hollywood's top film award sold a combined $2 billion in tickets worldwide heading into Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. Six of them, including frontrunners "Argo" and "Lincoln," hauled in at least $100 million apiece at U.S. and Canadian theaters.

"You've got pictures that are resonating with the public," said Keith Simanton, managing editor of movie website "These are the happy confluence of commerce and art."

A year ago only one nominee, civil rights drama "The Help," reached the $100-million domestic sales mark, according to the Box Office Mojo website. The winning "The Artist," a mostly silent, black-and-white film, earned just $45 million in the North American (U.S. and Canadian) market during its entire theatrical run.

Global sales for last year's nine nominees topped out at $1.2 billion even after the Oscars and related publicity.

The inclusion of more commercially successful movies is partly by design. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that awards the Oscars, took criticism for seeming to favor adult-oriented, art house films that few people had seen, creating a disconnect with teen and young adult movie fans who flock to action-packed blockbusters.

Complaints escalated after the snub of 2008 release "The Dark Knight," a critically acclaimed Batman thriller with $1 billion in worldwide sales.

In 2009, the academy decided to allow 10 instead of five Best Picture nominees, a change that opened the field to more films with bigger audiences.

Domestic sales for this year's nominees averaged $103 million, according to IMDb, compared with $70 million for last year's lesser-seen movies.

The popularity of this year's crop reflects studios' ability to make better films with smaller budgets, said Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson.

In prior years, he said, a film with the Oscar-worthy scope and A-list stars of Universal's nominee "Les Miserables" would have cost so much that executives wouldn't have greenlit it. Universal kept the musical's cost to $60 million through judicious cost-control and the contracts with Anne Hathaway and its other stars.

"Some of the nominated films were only made because they could be made for a price," he said.

Hollywood hopes the bigger box office sales translate to more viewers of the Oscars telecast on Walt Disney Co's ABC network. Last year's U.S. audience totaled 39 million, down from 55 million in 1998 when mega-hit "Titanic" swept the awards, according to Nielsen data provided by Horizon Media.

"We have gotten calls from past Oscar producers saying they are jealous, because we just lucked out and had this fantastic year in film," said Neil Meron, one of the producers of this year's show. "We are very grateful to the movie gods."

"Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's story of the 16th U.S. president's fight to end slavery, leads this year's nominees with $177 million domestically. The movie won praise for humanizing the revered president, and ranks 14th among 2012 North American releases. Six fellow nominees fall in the top 35.

Globally, shipwreck drama "Life of Pi" towers above the lot with $577 million in ticket sales, overcoming skepticism of how the book adaptation about a boy stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger could work on the big screen.

Ben Affleck's "Argo," based on the real-life rescue of U.S. diplomats from Iran, earned glowing reviews and saw domestic grosses climb to $127 million as it collected other awards.

The remaining $100-million-plus films locked in the Best Picture battle are "Les Miserables," Quentin Tarantino's slave revenge tale "Django Unchained," and romantic drama "Silver Linings Playbook."

"Zero Dark Thirty," the controversial account of the CIA's pursuit of Osama bin Laden, is close with $89 million.

Social media buzz helped "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Silver Linings" record the biggest sales bumps after the January 10 Oscar nominations, said Phil Contrino, editor of, which tracks film mentions on Facebook and Twitter.

The two smaller nominees are French language drama "Amour," with just $4 million from a limited domestic run, and mythological "Beasts of the Southern Wild" with $12 million.

The Best Picture field showcases the diversity of films that propelled 2012 domestic ticket sales to a record $10.8 billion, said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox.

"'Les Mis' and 'Django' probably couldn't be more on the opposite end of the spectrum," Aronson said. "It's a very balanced marketplace where there was something for everyone, and that's what makes a very healthy business."

© 2015 Enstarz, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Tagged :   The Oscars 2013, Oscars

Latest News

Sam Pepper

YouTube Star Sam Pepper Posts Disgusting Video Of A Guy Thinking He Watched His Friend Get Murdered

YouTube celebrity Sam Pepper posted a prank that was meant to be funny, but it's anything but.


Quantico's Simon Is At A Dangerous 'Tipping Point'; Is He The Bomber?

Episode 10 will spill all of Simon's dark secrets. Preapre to learn 'everything'

Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery Says It's A 'Smart Move' To End 'Downton Abbey'

One of the stars of 'Downton Abbey' opened up on how she was feeling when the final moment of filming took place.

Megan Fox Brian Austin Green

Did Megan Fox & Brian Austin Green Celebrate Thanksgiving As A Family?

Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green seem to be keeping things amicable in their split.

Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy Scores Number One On List Of Top 10 Stars

In a competition with a group of girls, Tom Hardy has taken the leading spot.

Gigi Hadid

Joe Jonas Makes It Clear That He Is Furious About Gigi Hadid & Zayn Malik?

Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid do not have the blessing of Joe Jonas

Mary-Kate Olsen Olivier Sarkozy

Find Out Which 'Full House' Star Was Not Invited To Mary-Kate Olsen's Wedding

There was at least one 'Full House' star who was not in attendance to Mary-Kate Olsen's wedding.


Get Your First Look At The 'Shadowhunters' Premiere! Photos Of Clary, Jace & More Revealed

It's time to step inside New York City's supernatural underground...

Harry Styles

Which Two Actors Would Date Harry Styles Over Zayn Malik?

Harry Styles' attractive features are making their way to the girls and the guys.


Fans Can Expect 'Fresh & New' Storylines On 'Degrassi'

'Degrassi' continues its legacy where the teenagers will experience the epic world of social media.

Real Time Analytics