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Oscars 2020: Which Best Picture Nominee Was Most Profitable? Which Will Win?

The 92nd annual Academy Awards are coming, and it’s quite a different affair from when it first started. Back then, tickets to the event cost $5 each and 270 people attended. Today, it’s a globally-televised event costing about $44 million. Another big change? Streaming services, particularly Netflix, are competing with the major movie studios for the awards. But how competitive are they, exactly?

  • Netflix has 24 Academy Awards nominations this year, more than any studio.
  • Two Netflix films are nominated for Best Picture: The Irishman and Marriage Story.
  • Netflix allegedly spent over $100 million in awards marketing, a sign of its intention to win Best Picture.
  • While the odds point against Netflix winning Best Picture, it could win in the documentary or animated categories.

For this viz, we compare the gross income versus budget of the nine nominees for Best Picture. Each bubble is drawn relative to scale. The majority of this data comes from BoxOfficeMojo. Data that wasn’t available there was retrieved through the press (such as Business Insider and Yahoo! Finance).

Top-Grossing Oscar Nominees for Best Picture

1. Joker (dir. Todd Phillips). Gross income: $1.07 B. Budget: $55 M.
2. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (dir. Quentin Tarantino). Gross income: $389 M. Budget: $90 M.
3. Ford v Ferrari (dir. James Mangold). Gross income: $220 M. Budget: $98 M.
4. 1917 (dir. Sam Mendes). Gross income: $205 M. Budget: $100 M.
5. Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-ho). Gross income: $161 M. Budget: $11 M.
6. Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig). Gross income: $148 M. Budget: $40 M.
7. Jojo Rabbit (dir. Taika Waititi). Gross income: $55 M. Budget: $14 M.

It’s difficult to compare Netflix films with those of the major studios based on earnings, as those figures aren’t available for the bundled streaming service. We can, however, look at prediction polls and other market trends to determine Netflix’s place in the pecking order for Best Picture. 

Overall, Netflix leads all organizations in total nominee count, with 24 nominations in total. These range across categories, but the real prize is Best Picture, for which Netflix produced two of the nine nominees. If either of its films were to win, it would more likely be its mafia epic The Irishman. However, it’s not the favorite overall: critics expect World War I drama 1917 to take the award. The awards website Gold Derby recently put the odds of 1917 winning at 11-2, versus The Irishman’s 17-2. 

It may not be this year, but Netflix seems bent on eventually winning a Best Picture: rumors have circulated it spent over $100 million on an awards marketing campaign. While most of this went to promoting the more likely contender The Irishman, don’t forget that Netflix has a second nominee for Best Picture: Marriage Story, which, while not as likely to win the award, was recently with The Irishman added to the Criterion Collection, a sign of its critical acclaim.

If Netflix can’t win Best Picture for The Irishman or Marriage Story, it’s got 22 nominees left overall, and the odds are quite good for winning in a smaller category like Best Documentary.

Can Netflix continue throwing resources into producing Oscar-worthy films? It faces growing competition in the streaming space, with Disney+, Apple TV+, and soon HBOMax and NBC’s Peacock. It’s managed to weather the competitive landscape so far, adding 8.8 million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2019. So, we’re likely to see more Netflix productions on next year’s red carpet.

Which of these movies were your favorite? Which do you see winning the award and why? Do you think Netflix will continue producing Oscar-worthy pictures? Let us know in the comments and share with your friends.

About the article

Authors

Juan Carlos

Editor

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