Saturday, February 26, 2011


The Oscars are tomorrow, and I'll have some thoughts on the ceremony and the Winners on Monday, but I figure it's time for one last thought. And while I could do one whining about it, I figured I could look try looking up.

See, usually the Oscar winners are more obscure films that, while very good, are never really seen by the general public until after they win. The biggest example of this in recent memory is The Hurt Locker which, while excellent, didn't really get seen by anyone until after it had won.

But lately something weird has been happening to some of the nominees, especially the really good ones. This began last year, when several movies you'd expect to be scraping by the skin of their teeth at the box office ended up making a lot of money. District 9 and Up in the Air, 2 great movies both made over 6 times their budget back at the box office, despite both being R-Rated and outside the cultural. Even A Serious Man, an extremely dark and depressing film made nearly 5 times it's budget.

I dismissed it at the time. After all, sure District 9 was intelligent and well made, but it also included alien robot suits and gun fights. Up in the Air included George Clooney, and he's always a crowd pleaser. And A Serious Man, well 30 million wouldn't be a big hit anywhere else.

But it's happening again this year, and in bigger numbers. Black Swan, True Grit and The Social Network are all HUGE hits, each grossing around 200 million. The King's Speech is even bigger, breaking 230 million on an 8 million pounds budget. That's roughly 12 million dollars, which means it took nearly 20 times it's budget. Hell, even 127 Hours doubled it's investment. This is all without DVD sales and rentals, pure box office take. And none of them are in 3D, which means they remain just as pirateable as they always did. Hell, Black Swan, True Grit, The Social Network and The King's Speech all outgrossed Yogi Bear, which goes a long way towards giving me hope for humanity.

Those numbers are outside the usual cinephile and foreign market that movies like this usually rely on, though not quite to action movie levels. But even with action movies we have reason to rejoice; Inception is a huge hit, taking in 800 million, despite being intelligent.

I don't know what this means in the larger cultural meaning, but it's nice to see great movies become big hits, instead of what it usually is, IE me grumbling about Alice in Wonderland being an impossibly huge hit while Tim Burton's best movie, Ed Wood, remains forgotten. Maybe this is a sign of the moviegoing public growing more intelligent in it's entertainment. Maybe it's just a reaction to the quality of those films

Either way, I'm looking up.

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