This year's Oscars is set to be a historic one in more ways than one. Not only is the ceremony taking place later than usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the best picture nominees are also experiencing a different sort of box office bump than in years past.
According to Comscore, the 10 best picture nominees added $82 million in domestic box office sales between the time of their respective nominations and Wednesday, with $71 million of that coming from "Avatar: The Way of Water." For comparison, in 2020, the nominees generated nearly $750 million at the domestic box office after being nominated in mid-January.
For many of this year's nominees, the majority of their box office revenue came before being nominated. For 2014's "American Sniper," 99% of its box office ticket sales came after its nomination. This year, all of the best picture nominees saw less than 13% of revenue from post-nomination box office except for one. “Women Talking” saw 77% of its revenue after the nominations, or around $3.9 million.
Parrot Analytics determined that the 10 best picture nominees saw an average audience demand increase 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 research on sites like IMDb and Wikipedia. Much of that demand likely manifested in streaming, with six of the 10 best picture nominees posting comparable box office data in the week after the nominations.
The difference in box office and streaming performance can be attributed to the when the films were released, their availability on streaming platforms and the genres of the films. "The Way of Water" was already in its sixth week in theaters and carried momentum at the box office, while "Everything Everywhere All at Once" only just returned to the big screen after a nearly sixth-month hiatus from cinemas.
The Covid pandemic and the rise of streaming have fundamentally altered the industry, and the box office bump for best picture nominees is evidence of this. Sunday's telecast will serve as a showcase for the films and performances of the year, and with more viewers watching from home, it's likely that streaming demand will continue to be high.