Best picture Oscar nominees 'Barbenheimer' account for 88% of the slate's box office haul


Movie posters for “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are pictured outside the Cinemark Somerdale 16 and XD in Somerdale, New Jersey, in 2023.

Hannah Beier | The Washington Post | Getty Images

“Barbenheimer” strikes again.

It’s no surprise that Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” and Universal’s “Oppenheimer” were among the 10 best picture nominees announced Tuesday for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. The duo exploded into cinemas in July last year, generating big box office bucks and enchanting critics and audiences alike.

Helmed by Academy darlings Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan, respectively, the dichotomous films have been on Oscar prediction lists for months. Although Gerwig missed out on a best director nomination, both filmmakers received nods for their screenplays.

Altogether, “Oppenheimer” led the pack with 13 nominations, while “Barbie” tallied eight.

Best Picture nominees for the 2024 Academy Awards

  • “American Fiction” (MGM/Amazon)
  • “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon)
  • “Barbie” (Warner Bros. Discovery)
  • “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
  • “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount)
  • “Maestro” (Netflix)
  • “Oppenheimer” (Universal)
  • “Past Lives” (A24)
  • “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)
  • “The Zone of Interest” (A24)

The tag-team of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” also represented 88% of the cumulative box office haul generated by best picture nominees prior to their nomination, according to data from Comscore.

The 10 best picture films together tallied $1.09 billion at the domestic box office ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, the fifth-highest haul for the slate of nominees since the Academy began nominating 10 titles for the top award in 2009.

“Barbenheimer” accounted for $963.1 million of this year’s figure.

Read more: ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Poor Things’ lead the Oscars nomination pack — See the full list

Last year, the 10 best picture nominees generated $1.57 billion at the domestic box office before their nominations, the highest-grossing class of nominees on record. The 2023 films benefited from $718 million in ticket sales from Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and nearly $600 million in receipts from Disney and 20th Century’s “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

The box office collection from nominated pictures can fluctuate greatly from year to year, depending on which films make the cut.

“Best picture Oscar nominees are ostensibly chosen based on their artistic and filmmaking excellence and not their box office revenues,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “Thus there are some years where the cumulative theatrical revenues for the films in contention are not reflective of their sheer popularity among moviegoers.”

In some years, nominated films were released later in the year, meaning they collect smaller box office receipts prior to getting a nod from the Academy. Traditionally, Oscar bait films are released in the last quarter of the year, with the majority hitting cinemas in November and December.

For this year’s nominees, only three best picture nominees arrived in theaters during that time — Searchlight’s “Poor Things,” MGM and Amazon’s “American Fiction” and A24’s “The Zone of Interest.” Together those three features generated less than $30 million at the domestic box office ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.

Additionally, films nominated from Netflix do not count towards the box office haul, as the streaming studio does not report what it makes from its limited theatrical runs. This year Netflix only had one best picture nominee — “Maestro.”

According to Dergarabedian, those box office dollars could translate to higher viewership for the Oscars awards ceremony on March 10.

“Thanks to ‘Barbenheimer,’ this year, as we also saw in 2023, the combined box office of the best picture nominees pre-nomination is in excess of $1 billion in domestic revenue,” said. “This is the dream scenario for the telecast and movie fans for whom the allure of rooting for their favorite film makes viewership more essential and in turn a presumed ratings boost for the network.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.



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