Industry News

Why some Oscar-winning movies make money and others don’t

24 June, 2024

In past Hollywood eras, a well-liked movie usually sold a fair amount of tickets. Today, quality in prestige films can garner widespread acclaim, but translating that into viewership is increasingly difficult. This year, Barbie ($1.4 billion) and Oppenheimer ($974 million) accounted for roughly 85 percent of the global grosses among Academy Award Best Picture nominees. Six of the 10 nominees earned less than $50 million worldwide. Unfortunately, this top-heavy dynamic is a recurring pattern in 21st century Hollywood. Traditional awards hopeful films struggle commercially alongside rapturously received blockbusters, a far cry from the 1980s and 1990s when Oscar contenders like Rain Man and Ghost topped the worldwide box office. Exploring the successful elements of commercially successful prestige films in recent years helps us understand what makes a financially lucrative awards contender in this new normal. Audiences are a fickle bunch and tastes change over time. From Q1 2019 to Q2 2024, genres like action, adventure and comedy saw slightly decreased audience demand while drama, animation, history, horror, romance and others maintained or slightly increased their demand levels, according to Parrot Analytics, where I work as Senior Entertainment Industry Strategist. Drama, as of Q2, accounts for the largest share of demand (23.5 percent) and can be exploited through creative and modernized sub-genres.

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