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

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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.

Poor Things is currently playing in 1,400 theaters, the widest it has been following its Dec. 8 release, which notched the third best first weekend theater average ($73K) of 2023. The Emma Stone-starring and produced bawdy female erotic romp busts wide this weekend at 2,200 theaters. 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.

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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.

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Last year, Amazon MGM’s ultimate Adapted Screenplay Oscar winner Women Talking made the biggest gains between noms and Oscar night (March 12, 2023) moving its running total from $1.2M to $5.38M, a +344% swell. Quite often between those time frames it’s the arthouse titles that post crazy gains versus major studio fare that’s also available in the home. Outside of Women Talking, there were six other titles 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 — and they 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 theater owners across the United States and around the world, we celebrate the 10 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 theaters.”

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That current total sum of $2.7 billion is down from the total final global box office of last year’s 10 Oscar Best Picture noms which ended their theatrical run at $4.4 billion WW. There’s no way we’ll catch up to that figure by early March. 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, the latter making all its cash before Oscar noms. Meanwhile Avatar 2, which was still in theaters during Oscar season, had already played out from its Christmas release; that James Cameron sequel seeing 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.

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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 already 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 Friday; the eight Oscar-nominated Greta Gerwig directed title is 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.

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Oppenheimer, with 13 nominations, has been on digital and DVD since November and hits Peacock on Feb. 16. However, on Friday it’s going back out in 1,100 runs comprised of 300 plus 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.

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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 10 Oscar noms.

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NEON’s Anatomy of a Fall, also a Cannes Palme d’Or winner, debuted in 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.

RELATED: America Ferrera Talks ‘Barbie’ Oscar Nom & Disappointment In Academy’s Snub Of Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie: “They Set A New Bar”

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.

RELATED: ‘Killers Of The Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone Makes History As First Native Actress Of American Descent To Be Oscar Nominated

Focus Features’ The Holdovers ($18.7M domestic, $26.2M WW) with five noms returns to 1,235 theaters this weekend, its 14th frame. The movie, which opened on Oct. 27, is currently booked at 127 venues. It’s already playing on Peacock.

RELATED: Oscar Scorecards: Nominations By Film And Distributor

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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