The Awards Audit is a weekly column at Next Best Picture where we dive into the financial performance of this year’s Oscar contenders and analyze how their results impact their prospects for this awards season. On this week’s Awards Audit, we saw a blockbuster continue to dominate, an Oscar contender open in wide release to disappointing results and other films start and continue their platform strategy.
“Black Panter: Wakanda Forever”
$67.3 million in its 2nd week
$287,992,647 total so far
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had a 62.9% drop in its second week with a $15,309 per-theater average, bringing its total gross so far to $287,992,647. Despite the great financial performance, the film is expected to make less money than the 2018 film. The reviews are also not as strong as “Black Panther,” and the film is expected to not perform as well at the Oscars. The box office dominance will continue until James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” releases on December 16th. Still, the film’s awards prospects will be limited to the below-the-line categories. The first film won three Oscars for Best Costume Design, Production Design, and Original Score from seven nominations, including Best Picture. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is currently predicted by NBP for Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Visual Effects, and Original Song. We’ll see where it ultimately ends up with the Academy but expect it to end the year as one of the year’s highest earners at the box office.
$2.25 million in 2,022 theaters
This one hurts. One thing that many have pointed out lately is how hard it’s been for prestige dramas to compete for box office attention around this time of the year. Where in the past, audiences would eventually find their way toward Oscar contenders either through platform releasing or in their opening weekend during wide release, the continued apathy towards these films is something that has been incredibly distressing. We saw it last season, and now we’re seeing it play out again this year with films like “Till” making only $8,546,676, “The Banshees Of Inisherin” making $7,166,820, and “TÁR” only bringing in $4,905,463. Universal decided to release “She Said” wide right away instead of going the platform route after its world premiere at NYFF and following film festival screening at AFI. The decision will cost them at the box office, but the bigger questions about how this affects the film’s awards chances and what it means for how the other remaining Best Picture contenders that are not “Avatar: The Way of Water” will perform when they open over the next month. Is Universal about to have another disastrous headline next week when “The Fabelmans” goes wide over the Thanksgiving holiday? Next Best Picture’s current consensus predicts “She Said” will receive Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Carey Mulligan is expected to win Best Supporting Actress. We’ll see if the box office changes anyone’s mind in the coming days. Still, a Hollywood insider film was likely always going to appeal more to the industry anyway, which bodes well for its awards chances even if its financial return may disappoint.
$9 million in 3,211 theaters
Exceeding expectations, Mark Mylod’s “The Menu” rode a wave of recent success for marketed horror movies (even though the film is more of a dark psychological thriller with satirical social commentary) to become Searchlight Pictures’ best opening weekend since “Slumdog Millionaire.” The film will likely benefit from strong word of mouth and go on to have some decent legs in the coming weeks. It’s currently not predicted by the NBP team for an Oscar nomination, but if this momentum continues, could it be our lone Best Original Screenplay nominee like “The Lobster” or “Knives Out?”
“Bones And All”
$120,000 in 5 theaters
Luca Guadagnino’s cannibal, love, road story is a unique monster in that it touches upon many genres, with teen heartthrob Timothee Chalamet at the center of its marketing. That, coupled with good reviews from its fall film festival run, led to a per-theater average of $24,000 for “Bones And All.” The film will go into wide release sooner rather than later on November 23rd, so the real show of strength will come from how it performs next weekend. Oscar prospects look slim given the film’s gnarly subject matter, but a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination is not out of the question for how well it balances its different tones while telling an engrossing road movie with rich characters and unique rules for its horror elements.
$94,078 in 4 theaters
$314,000 total so far
Steven Spielberg’s personal semi-autobiographical drama, “The Fabelmans,” continued its limited release with four theaters bringing in an additional nearly $95k ahead of its wide expansion over the Thanksgiving holiday. Before, when talking about “She Said” and how poorly awards season films are doing this time of the year, I cannot help but think back on “West Side Story” last year and how much of a financial disappointment it was considering how well Speilberg films tend to do at the box office regardless of when they’re released. It was his lowest-grossing film since 1997’s “Amistad.” Could “The Fabelmans” suffer a similar fate, considering how difficult it’s been to convince moviegoers to head to the theaters to watch these kinds of films instead of waiting for them to be available on VOD or streaming at home? It’s certainly possible, given how many other limited-release awards season titles will be coming out in the weeks ahead, threatening to divide audiences and pull revenue from Spielberg’s latest. No matter what, given the pedigree of those involved and overwhelmingly positive reviews, the film is currently leading NBP’s predictions with eleven possible nominations and a few predicted wins, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Original Score. The box office performance may not affect nominations, but if the results come back as dismally as “West Side Story” did or even worse, it could have a substantial impact on the awards race and lead to a new frontrunner for Best Picture.
For this week, we’ll see more Oscar contenders enter the race in both limited and wide release. Here’s what audiences have to look forward to…
Do you like this new column? We appreciate your feedback on our previous box office columns, which is why we’re delivering this new analysis to track how this season’s awards contenders are doing at the box office. Is there anything you would like to see in future posts? But also, please tell us what you saw this weekend and what did you think? What will you be seeing next weekend? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.