“Parasite” was the big winner at Sunday’s Oscars, becoming the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. Director Bong Joon-ho also won Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and the movie won Best International Feature. Bong vowed to “drink until next morning” in an acceptance speech.
But will the big win translate to more money at the box office? In decades past, winning Best Picture or even being nominated provided a nice Oscar bump, but in the era of streaming, with the multitude of choices moviegoers and at-home watchers have, that bump is largely gone.
Two of the nominees this year, “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” didn’t even have theatrical releases. They’re on Netflix. Their success can be measured in streams and indirectly in new subscribers. As for the nominees that came out in theaters, their ticket sales largely correlate to their release dates, with scant evidence of a surge after Oscar nominations came out Jan. 13.
Sam Mendes’ 1917 has taken in more than 60% of its box office haul since then, but the movie only came out Christmas Day. Two decades ago, Mendes’ “American Beauty,” which came out in September 1999, went from 54th at the box office to top 10, making 43% of its box office total after Oscar nominations. This year, “Joker” has made less than 1% of its ticket sales since Jan. 13. The movie entered theaters Oct. 4. “Ford v Ferrari,” released Nov. 15, has made about 3% of its box office haul since Jan. 13.
While we hope Bong fulfilled his vow and enjoyed every second of his astounding night—and all indications are he did—”Parasite” and other Best Picture contenders will have to buck the trends to see their critical acclaim translate to immediate financial success. That said, go see some movies!