After Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday, contenders like “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “Women Talking” welcomed a slight boost in box office grosses.
This year, a broader mix of commercial and arthouse offerings are among the 10 films vying for best picture. On the populist side, there’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” ($2.117 billion globally), “Top Gun: Maverick” ($1.488 billion) and “Elvis” ($287 million). Leading the indie front is “Everything Everywhere All at Once” ($104 million), “The Banshees of Inisherin” ($30 million), “Triangle of Sadness” ($22.5 million), “The Fabelmans” ($22 million) followed by lesser-seen titles like “Tár” ($7.4 million) and “Women Talking” ($2.3 million). “All Quiet on the Western Front” was released by Netflix, which doesn’t report box office grosses.
Over the weekend, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” enjoyed the biggest boost, bringing in $1 million as it returned to 1,400 theaters. A24’s twisty sci-fi adventure, which garnered a leading 11 nods, reported sold out screenings across top markets, placing 13th on domestic box office charts. After 45 weeks in theaters, “Everything Everywhere” has generated $71 million in North America, making it one of the biggest indie success stories of the pandemic era.
“Women Talking,” a drama directed by Sarah Polley about Mennonite women forced to grapple with the aftermath of sexual assault, has the most to gain from Academy Award recognition since it’s the least-seen of the best picture nominees. Over the weekend, “Women Talking” landed in 14th place as its ticket sales topped out at $1.07 million from 707 theaters — an impressive 164% uptick.
“Elvis” also benefitted with a massive 901% jump, though the substantial increase is mostly because the film wasn’t playing in many theaters the weekend prior. Baz Luhrmann’s glittery biographical drama, starring Austin Butler as the king of rock ‘n’ roll, barely moved the needle in terms of attendance, bringing in $154,000 from 841 screens. “Elvis” debuted in theaters last June, earning a huge $151 million domestically, so most interested audiences have likely already seen the movie by now.
Meanwhile, ticket sales for “The Banshees of Inisherin” rose 382% (bringing in $352,000 from 1,205 theaters), “Tár” rose 138% (bringing in 173,000 from 537 theaters) and “The Fabelmans” expanded 73% (bringing in $760,000 from 1,962 theaters).
“Avatar: The Way of Water” declined 19% from last weekend, though the blockbuster sequel still landed in first place on box office charts (for the seventh consecutive weekend) with $15.7 million. However, its continued domination — with $620 million domestically to date — has little to do with awards season recognition.
“This is great news for theaters,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst. “Even more striking is that given the option of at-home viewing — where some of the contenders have been available for weeks — audiences are opting for the big-screen experience.”
Not every film in the awards race has benefitted from Oscars love. “To Leslie,” an indie starring best actress nominee Andrea Riseborough, didn’t crack the top 20 as the surprise contender returned to theaters over the weekend. But that’s likely because “To Leslie” was only available in 10 venues, where it collected just $2,634. Canadian-based distributor Momentum Pictures released the film simultaneously on video-on-demand platforms and on the big screen, where “To Leslie” grossed $27,000 in its extremely limited theatrical run.
On the morning of Academy Award nominations, Riseborough told Variety that she hoped Oscar attention would elevate the relatively obscure film’s profile. “The really exciting thing is that so many more people than we imagined are going to see ‘To Leslie,’” she said.
All together, this year’s 10 best picture contenders have collectively grossed $1.574 billion in domestic ticket sales at the time of nominations. That’s the biggest haul since 2010, when the nominees — including the original “Avatar” — jointly earned $1.519 billion. For the producers of the Academy Awards, there’s hope that audiences will be more incentivized to tune into a ceremony that’s honoring films they’ve actually watched in theaters.
“This year’s Oscar mix of blockbusters and indie-style contenders perfectly reflects the intention behind the switch to allow up to 10 best picture nominees back in 2010,” Dergarabedian says. And at least since 2020, he mentions, the pandemic hasn’t been kind to awards show viewership. But this year, Dergarabedian adds, “the biggest winner may turn out to be ABC, for whom the ratings should take a massive uptick.”