Best Picture contenders produce $2 billion box office bounty
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The movie studios behind this year's Best Picture nominees already have brought home a treasured prize: big box-office sales that placed the Oscar contenders among the most-watched films of 2012.
The nine competitors for Hollywood's top film award sold a combined $2 billion in tickets worldwide heading into Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. Six of them, including frontrunners "Argo" and "Lincoln," hauled in at least $100 million apiece at U.S. and Canadian theaters.
"You've got pictures that are resonating with the public," said Keith Simanton, managing editor of movie website IMDb.com. "These are the happy confluence of commerce and art."
A year ago only one nominee, civil rights drama "The Help," reached the $100-million domestic sales mark, according to the Box Office Mojo website. The winning "The Artist," a mostly silent, black-and-white film, earned just $45 million in the North American (U.S. and Canadian) market during its entire theatrical run.
Global sales for last year's nine nominees topped out at $1.2 billion even after the Oscars and related publicity.
The inclusion of more commercially successful movies is partly by design. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that awards the Oscars, took criticism for seeming to favor adult-oriented, art house films that few people had seen, creating a disconnect with teen and young adult movie fans who flock to action-packed blockbusters.
Complaints escalated after the snub of 2008 release "The Dark Knight," a critically acclaimed Batman thriller with $1 billion in worldwide sales.
In 2009, the academy decided to allow 10 instead of five Best Picture nominees, a change that opened the field to more films with bigger audiences. Continued...