This year's best-picture Oscar nominees made over $1 billion more than last year's at the box office - here's what experts say that means for the future

This year's best-picture Oscar nominees made over $1 billion more than last year's at the box office - here's what experts say that means for the future

black panther bohemian

Marvel Studios/Fox

"Black Panther" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" are the two highest-grossing movies nominated for best picture.

  • This year's group of Oscars best-picture nominees made nearly $3 billion combined at the worldwide box office. That's over $1 billion more than last year's group.
  • The Academy almost implemented a "popular film" Oscar this year, but the best-picture nominees suggest that's not necessary.
  • Still, box-office experts question whether the popularity of the movies and changes to the telecast will affect viewership, or what kinds of movies the Academy honors.

The Oscars almost had a "popular film" award this year, but the best-picture race is stacked with crowd-pleasers and blockbusters anyway.

This year's crop of best-picture nominees made a combined $2.9 billion at the worldwide box office, bolstered by the $1.3 billion haul of "Black Panther," but also helped by audience favorites "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "A Star Is Born."

"The Academy has some perceived pressure on it to include more popular movies as the show has faced ratings challenges in recent years," chief analyst Shawn Robbins told Business Insider.

The 2018 telecast was the lowest-rated Oscars telecast of all time, with 26.5 million viewers.


Below is a breakdown of each of the best-picture nominees' global gross.

Oscar box office noms 1

Skye Gould/Business Insider

Overall, this year's eight nominees made over $1 billion more than last year's nine nominees, when box-office hits like "Dunkirk" and "Get Out" were nominated. And that's without any recorded box office for this year's best-picture frontrunner "Roma." It was distributed by Netflix, which doesn't release box-office figures for its theatrical releases.

Below is a comparison between this year's combined box-office gross for best-picture nominees, and last year's:

Oscar box office noms 2

Skye Gould/Business Insider

This year's best-picture group is also the highest-grossing group domestically since 2011, when "Inception" and "Toy Story 3" were nominated, Variety reported.


Does this signal that changes are in store for the Oscars in the future?

When the Academy quickly rolled back its popular Oscar idea last year after backlash, it left open the possibility of revisiting it. But this year's Oscars suggests it might not need to.

"This year's crop of best picture nominees perfectly embodies the spirit of what was intended when the Academy broadened the category to include as many as ten films with a mix of indie films, critical favorites, and blockbusters in contention," Comscore senior media analyst Paul​ Dergarabedian told Business Insider. "Hence there really is no need for a 'most popular' film award."

A Star is Born

Warner Bros

"A Star Is Born"

The popular Oscar isn't the only idea that the Academy announced - and then changed its mind on after criticism - in an attempt to win over audiences and boost ratings. The Academy also said it would give out four awards during commercial breaks to limit the show's running time, until significant disapproval from within the film industry forced it to reconsider.


Exhibitor Relations senior box-office analyst Jeff Bock doesn't think these changes would have enticed viewers, though.

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"I honestly think there's a set audience for those that watch the Oscar telecast and those who don't," Bock told Business Insider. "Box office isn't going to sway fans of 'Black Panther' to watch a three-hour awards show, no matter who shows up. Especially not in the day and age of edible entertainment, when all tidbits and scraps of newsworthy entertainment are available to nibble on in multiple formats, in real-time."

And even if a blockbuster movie like "Black Panther" or "Bohemian Rhapsody" does win on Sunday, that doesn't necessarily suggest a dramatic shift in what the Academy will honor in the years to come, according to Robbins.

"Blockbusters have been recognized as nominees many times in the past, including recent years with films like 'Dunkirk,' 'The Martian,' 'American Sniper,' 'Gravity,' 'Toy Story 3,' 'Inception,' 'Avatar,' 'Up,' and 'The Blind Side,'" Robbins said. "Most of the criticism usually stems from the lack of blockbuster winners, which is probably a trend that will live on regardless of what happens this Sunday."