Oscars 2022: Studio Movies Dominate the Best Picture Race–Impact on Rating

Studio Movies Dominate the Best Picture Race?

Studio blockbusters are among the best picture frontrunners for the first time in years. How would it impact the ratings of the 2023 Oscars ceremony?

Other hits vying for the honor included As Good as It Gets, which earned $148 million domestically, and Good Will Hunting, with $138.4 million.

A year later, Oscar ratings began a decades-long decline as smaller, adult-skewing fare from specialty distributors began dominating the best picture contest.

In 2009, The Dark Knight was snubbed, and Academy members were so concerned that then-president Sid Ganis expanded the category to 10 films, hoping to include studio pictures, seen by tens of millions of moviegoers.

(Avatar remains the top-grossing movie in history, earning north of $2.9 billion worldwide and $785.1 million domestically, including rereleases.)
Other populist studio releases competing that year included The Blind Side, but Academy voters favored indie movies.

For the first time in 20 years of the nominee field being mostly dominated by smaller specialty or studio titles, this year’s best picture race could see the return of studio blockbusters and huge spike in ratings.

Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, which has grossed north of $1.4 billion globally, including $760 million domestically, is considered a shoo-in for top nom.

Ryan Coogler’s upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Cameron’s long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water are tipped to compete.

The combined grosses for the best picture nominees could reach unprecedented levels, in terms of domestic and global grosses.

The first Black Panther earned north of $700 million domestically and $1.4 billion globally, and both Wakanda Forever and The Way of Water are primed for box office domination.

A24’s indie sensation Everything Everywhere All at Once has already grossed north of $70 million in the U.S. and $100 million worldwide.
“The reason behind the expansion of the potential best picture nominees to 10 contenders was to broaden the appeal of the Oscars beyond the esoteric and increase the number of movie fans who have interest in the presentation and outcome of the awards.”

The 2019 best picture race was populated by a mix of major studio blockbusters (Black Panther, Star Is BornBohemian Rhapsody) and specialized films (The FavouriteVice), among others (with Green Book the winner).

The eight contenders generated over $1 billion in domestic revenue, but that was more of an anomaly than a trend, with most years offering mostly sub-$100 million box office performers.

There is correlation between Oscar telecast ratings and the box office performance of movies going after the top prize. Some 29.6 million viewers tuned in to the 2019 telecast — still not ideal, of course, but up from 26.5 million in 2018. Viewership fell again to 23.6 million in 2020, when Parasite won.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ratings plummeted to an all-time low after the collapse of theatrical attendance in 2020: 10.4 million viewers in 2021 (Nomadland won) and 16.6 million viewers last year (CODA).

Turning Point: 2008

Harvey Weinstein reshaped the Oscar game in realizing that top nominations were great marketing tool. Miramax’s Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan during the 1999 telecast in what was a huge upset. The former had earned $36.4 million domestically when it was nominated; it added another $64 million. Conversely, Saving Private Ryan was already a winner, having grossed $195 million by the time it was nominated (it would add another $21.2 million).