Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Can “The Big Sick” Maintain Momentum To A best picture Nomination?

By Josh Tarpley

If you didn’t already know, “The Big Sick” is fantastic, topping most “Best of 2017 so far” lists across the web. After debuting at Sundance and a limited run the past few weeks, the film saw a nationwide release this past weekend and the results were promising. Though the independent film is seeing some encouraging box office results, will there be enough momentum around the film to see it this fall in the awards race?

Click beyond the jump to read more about “The Big Sick’s” Oscar chances.

​Though “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” duked it out for the top spot, “The Big Sick” was added to 2,271 theaters, saw a 112% increase in revenue, and is currently at $16 million total gross (all numbers via Box Office Mojo). No matter what happens the rest of the year, this is good news, “The Big Sick” is one of the best movies of the year and it is great it is being seen by this wider audience. For us here in the awards world though, we want to see the film succeed and show up come nominations morning, unfortunately “The Big Sick” has a long road in front of it.

The average gross for Best Picture nominees last year was $77 million. That is high than usual due to bigger success of films like “Hidden Figures” ($169 million), “La La Land” ($151 million) and “Arrival” ($100 million). For a more achievable goal for “The Big Sick,” let’s look at the indie films that were nominated. When we look at the box office results for “Lion” ($51 million), “Manchester By The Sea” ($47 million), “Hell or High Water” ($27 million) and our beloved Best Picture winner “Moonlight” ($27 million), we see that if “The Big Sick” ends up around $30-$40 million it will be in standard nomination territory (“The Big Sick” has already made more than 2015’s “Room,” so it is a doable goal).

Separate from box office though, the bigger task (as is with most films) is the shrinking window in which the “awards season” consists of. The way the current system is set up, any film released before September has to work overtime to make sure they break through the onslaught of Oscar films being released in that time. In 2016, with the exception of “Hell or High Water” in August, every Best Picture nominee came out in October or after (it is the same in 2015 with the exception of “Mad Max: Fury Road”). There will be so many films vying for Academy voters’ attention come this Fall, “The Big Sick” will really need some momentum going into the season to come out with a nomination.

Come January, if “The Big Sick” gets a pair of Best Picture/Screenplay nominations, I see it happening like this:

  • The box office success keeps up its strength through August/September. The film will need to continue to serve as counter programming of larger Summer films, with arthouse (and some mainstream) audience taking the film to that $50 million sweet spot.
  • The December critics awards will need to champion the film. Just as it is hitting home release (i.e. more organic advertising), if the regional critics groups start nominating the film then it will be the perfect shot of momentum the movie will need going into Academy voting (getting a Best Comedy/Musical nomination at the Golden Globes will be huge as well).
  • The Big Sick” could be the movie that succeeds as a result of the younger, more diverse Academy. While it makes sense to include “The Papers” and “Darkest Hour” in our predictions in that they fit the standard “Oscar movie” mold, the Academy membership is changing drastically. They just invited a record-breaking 774 members and we could be in uncharted territory when it comes to predicting what they will vote for. If “The Papers,” “Darkest Hour” and “Dunkirk” become the favorites, expect to see the new Academy voters champion “The Big Sick” as a representative for a different type of Oscar movie.

Whatever happens the rest of the year, one thing is for certain, “The Big Sick” is a great film and a promising to start to what we hope will be more projects for Kumail Nanjiani. Be sure to check out the film, as your ticket purchase could be the beginning of the movie’s Oscar campaign!

What do you you think? Does “The Big Sick” break into the Oscar conversation this Fall? Let us know in the comments below!

You can follow Josh and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @JoshTarpley7

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Josh Parham
Josh Parham
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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