Oscar 2010: Best Picture Nominees—Commercial Appeal

This year’s 10 Best picture nominees have been more popular with audiences than last year’s group.

The contrast in commercial appeal (as measured by domestic gross) last year was most evident in the playability of the two front-runners, James Cameron’s Avatar and Kathryn Bigelow’s The hurt Locker.

Avatar was a bonanza at the box-office, grossing $688 million in the U.S. alone, whereas Hurt locker, which went on to win best Picture and Best Director, made less than $20 million.

This year, we don’t have a behemoth lie Avatar, but there are two pictures that made a splash at the box-office: Toy Story 3, which grossed 415 million, and Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi-thriller-actioner Inception, which made the estimable amount of close to $300 million ($292.6 to be exact).

However, more significant is the fact that three or four best Picture nominees, which were based on modest budgets and were middle-range in scope and range, have managed to play well all over the country.

I am talking about films such as David  O. Russell’s The Fighter, which has grossed close to $90 million as of last weekend, and will make more if Christian bale and Melissa Leo win (as many of us have been predicting for months) the Best Supporting actor and best Supporting Actress, respectively.

Even a low-budget, grim film, such as Debra Granik’s Winter Bone, a quintessentially Sundance indie, has found an audience and generated $ 6.4 million, which is way above hat most American indies make.

Below please find the domestic box-office figure of each of the 10 Nominees as of February 22 (the deadline for the Academy voters’ Oscar ballots:

127 Hours

The movie played at the Telluride and Toronto Film Fests in September.  (Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which won the 2008 Best Picture, had also premiered in these venues).

Gross: $17.5

Black Swan

Black Swan world premiered as opening night of the 2010 Venice Film Festival, then played at Toronto.

Gross: $101.8

The Fighter

The Fighter was the surprise feature at the AFI Film Fest, in November.

Gross: $88.4 million

Inception

The bib-budget Warner movie opened in the summer and immediately became a much-discussed sci-fi thriller, going way beyond summer popcorn entertainment.

Gross: $292.6

(The film is available on DVD)

The Kids Are All Right

The serio comedy world-premiered at the Sundance Film fest, in January of 2010, then served as opening night of the L.A. Film Fest, in June, before opening commercially in July.

Gross: $20.8

The King’s Speech

The tasteful and middle brow movie world premiered at the Toronto Film Fest, before getting a platform release by the Weinstein Company in late November.

Gross: $104.6 (still in wide release).

The Social Network

David Fincher’s brilliant movie served as opening night of the 2010 New York Film Festival, and was released by Sony one week after playing the festival.

Gross: $96.7

(The film is available on DVD)

Toy Story 3

The Pixar animated film, which opened in the summer, is one of the best reviewed pictures of the year.

Gross: $415 million

True Grit

Paramount was smart in its decision not to send Joel and Ethan Coen’s remake of the 1969 John Wayne Western to any fall festival.  The enjoyable Western served as the opening night of the 2011 Berlin Film Fest, but that was last week, in mid-February, after nearly exhausting the domestic market in the U.S. with an impressive gross of over  $160 million.

Gross: $164.6 (still in wide release)

Winter’s Bone

Debra Granik’s social drama won the top jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Fest.

Gross: $6.4