Oscar Best Picture Noms See Some Afterglow At Pandemic B.O.: ‘Minari’, ‘Nomadland’ Make Big Gains; ‘The Father’ Leads

Anthony D'Alessandro
·5 min read

While it’s not really a time to take a victory lap at the box office with only 3.1k movie theaters opened out of U.S. and Canada’s 5.8K, five out of the eight Oscar-nominated best pictures this past weekend in theatrical release reaped the halo effect of Monday’s noms.

Keep in mind many arthouses, especially in the awards hubs of New York and Los Angeles, are operating at 25% capacity. That curbs and really hurts grosses for arthouse titles, as they’re typically given fewer showtimes and depend on full auditoriums, especially at primetimes such as 5pm and 7pm for older crowds. Landmark on Pico has still not opened. But the arthouse chain reopened their Nuart site on Friday with Sony Pictures Classic’s The Father and A24’s Minari. Nonetheless, the reopening of both cities’ arthouses couldn’t come at a better time, as they can capitalize on Oscar contenders, especially given the ceremony’s late date of April 25.

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The five Oscar nominated pics in theatrical release —The Father, Minari, Warner Bros.’ Judas and the Black Messiah, Searchlight’s Nomadland, and Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman were able to see jumps in their theater counts, thanks to the reopening of L.A. (which was the No. 1 market this past weekend with $1M+ grossed so far), which resulted in upticks in their B.O. True, we’re not seeing anything crossover, because we don’t have the exhibition bandwidth stateside to do so, but specialty distributors will take what they can get.

Searchlight refuses to report grosses for its six-time Oscar- nominated Nomadland, which made history on Monday with a directing nom for Chloe Zhao becoming the first woman of color to land one. Searchlight believes that it’s impossible for the industry to interpret the pic’s B.O., especially given the fact that the movie is available for free to Hulu subscribers. My take? I think the Disney specialty distributor doesn’t want to paint its Oscar contender with any headlines of poor box office performance. However, everyone knows that the box office overall isn’t faring well, and that the numbers which all these Oscar contenders are posting are as good as it gets. Really, Searchlight, stop being embarrassed and start reporting your box office as you join the guilty ranks of such streamers who aren’t reporting figures, i.e. Amazon (which has The Sound of Metal nominated for Best Picture for an overall six Oscar noms) and Netflix, which has Mank (ten noms, including Best Picture) and The Trial of the Chicago 7 (six noms, including Best Pic).

Why do I raise such a fuss here? Because, Searchlight, according to industry estimates, Nomadland saw the biggest gains out of any Best Picture Oscar contender, +157% over last weekend with an estimated $302.5K at 1,050 theaters (+650) in its 7th weekend for a total cume that’s approaching $2M. Though miniscule by pre-pandemic standards, it’s something to tout during Oscar season, especially when compared with your fellow competition here. But seriously, Searchlight, keeping hiding your grosses! (I’m being sarcastic). Nomadland also has nominations for Best Actress (Frances McDormand), film editing, adapted screenplay, and cinemtography.

A24’s Minari saw a 504 jump in its 6th weekend theater count to 786 yielding a 131% boost in its weekend B.O. with $306K and a running total of $1.4M. The Lee Isaac Chung directed movie is also available on PVOD. The pic has six noms including Best Picture, original screenplay, score, directing, Steven Yeun for Best Actor and Yuh-Jung Youn in the supporting actress category.

Out of the five 2021 Best Picture nominees, The Father made the most this weekend with $321K, but eased 25% at 933 sites (+68),and stands at $969K. The pic counts six noms including Best Pic, adapted screenplay, editing, production design, Olivia Colman for Best Supporting Actress and Anthony Hopkins for Best Actor. The title will be available on PVOD on March 26.

Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman in its 13th weekend saw $195K repping a +117% surge from 831 theaters (+334) for a running total of $5.7M. The pic counts five Oscar noms including Best Picture, original screenplay, editing, Carey Mulligan in Best Actress and the pic’s filmmaker Emerald Fennell up for directing. Fennell made Oscar history along with Zhao as it was the first time two women were honored in the category. LA and New York cinemas repped the pic’s top-ten grossing locations this past weekend with AMC Citywalk (LA), AMC Burbank (LA), AMC Century City (LA), AMC Tustin (LA), AMC Fallbrook (LA), AMC Empire (NYC), Williamsburg, NY; AMC Lincoln Square NYC, AMC Sunset (LA) and AMC Marina (LA). Promising Young Woman is also available on PVOD.

Warner Bros.’ Judas and the Black Messiah in its 6th weekend grossed $250K for a 53% uptick from 951 locations (+174) and a running total of $5M. The movie is no longer available on HBO Max, having played on the streaming service for 31 days. Theaters will have the Shaka King-directed feature exclusively for the next month. The pic is up for six nominations including Best Picture, original screenplay, original song, cinematography, Daniel Kaluuya for Best Actor and Lakeith Stanfield for Best Supporting Actor.

Comscore reports that the total weekend box office made $17.6M, +7% versus the period of March 12-15. Overall, 2021’s annual B.O. is $211.6M, -88% from the Jan. 1-March 21 frame of 2020.

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