The Oscar Bump May Be Gone for Good

Emma Stone in 'Poor Things.'
Emma Stone in 'Poor Things.' Photo: Yorgos Lanthimos/Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures
Scott Mendelson
February 4, 2024

It’s been a dark winter at the box office. The total haul for this first weekend in February totaled just $59 million, down 27 percent from $81 million last year. With all the chatter about Dune: Part Two “rescuing” the theatrical industry in March, part of the current hurt comes from the absence of anything resembling, commercially speaking, an Oscar season at the box office. 

As recently as 2020, in the weeks before the world shut down, Universal’s 1917 opened to $37 million domestically. The World War I thriller, which director Sam Mendes constructed to resemble a single take, would ultimately gross $159 million domestic and $359 million worldwide. In 2011, the season was filled with honest-to-goodness mainstream nominees like True Grit ($170 million domestic and $252 million worldwide), Black Swan ($330 million global), The Fighter ($95 million/$130 million), and The King’s Speech ($139 million/$484 million). They packed auditoriums alongside the best picture-nominated summer tentpoles like Inception and Toy Story 3.