Some might say that the answer to the above question is abundantly clear: When it comes to Oscar’s best picture winner on Sunday night, it’s a coin toss between Fox Seachlight’s The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
However, there’s a few whispers of an upset, and if that’s the case, Universal/Blumhouse’s Get Out, which is already out on DVD, VOD and playing on HBO, may have a shot at walking away with the top prize.
Last year at this time prior to the show, we delayed our box office best picture boost piece because at the last minute, there was some concern that La La Land wouldn’t flat out win Best Picture, which was exactly the case with A24’s Moonlight coming in from behind. Both pics wound up seeing a spike following Oscar night, with La La Land, the Best Picture loser, making more than Moonlight, $10.2M to $5.7M. La La Land‘s final B.O. of $151.1M saw a 7% gain following its six Oscar wins, including best actress Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle, while Moonlight’s running total went from $22.2M to $27.85M, a 25% gain over the same period.
But if Get Out wins best picture, it’s apt to see a gain on the home entertainment side versus the multiplex. While the pic is currently in limited release and would likely return to more theaters should it win, the Jordan Peele-directed horror pic would be in the same scenario as other Oscar best picture winners such as Gladiator, The Hurt Locker, The Departed, and The Silence of the Lambs, which didn’t see great movements in their ticket sales, as they were released earlier in the year and already available on home entertainment shelves by Oscar night.
Currently Three Billboards and The Shape of Water‘s respective running domestic cumes are $50.8M and $56M. Non-Fox analysts believe that whichever title wins, it likely finals in the low $60M range, which would yield an 18% gain for Three Billboards in its stateside total and 7% or more for Shape. On average over the last five years, Oscar Best Picture winners have seen a further 14.6% uptick in their domestic total between Oscar night and their final cume.
Three Billboards is currently booked at 770 theaters and will likely grow to 900 should it take Best Picture, and Shape of Water at 832 would be booked in north of 1,000 locations with the top trophy. Even though Three Billboards just hit DVD shelves on Tuesday, it’s still so early on in its home entertainment life that exhibitors will welcome the Martin McDonagh-directed pic back following any wins, and people will want to see it on the big screen. Ditto for Shape of Water, which comes out on March 13 on DVD/BluRay. However, even if both pics come up short of a Best Picture win, they’re still likely to see at least another $3M-$5M at the box office off expected wins for Shape‘s Guillermo del Toro as Best Director and Three Billboards’ Frances McDormand as Best Actress and Sam Rockwell as Best Supporting Actor.
If either wins Best Picture, it will rep the fourth time that Fox Searchlight has taken Oscar’s top prize, following 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, and 2014’s Birdman. That’s a big deal at a time when Disney has acquired Fox and is deliberating how much of its assets it wants to maintain. Fox Searchlight is invaluable given its track record with awards contenders.
Both titles have been booked at several locations since their first day of release. In its 16th weekend, Three Billboards speaks to both Blue and Red state audiences with its inflammatory rhetoric-fueled protagonist Mildred, played by McDormand, with life-cycle bookings at the Tara in Atlanta, the Kendell Square in Boston, the Angelika in Dallas, the Downtown West in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Belltower in Naples Florida. Shape has played at New York’s Lincoln Square and Angelika Film Centre since its exclusive opening in the city on Dec. 1. Since weekend 2, it’s been on the marquee at LA’s The Landmark and the Hollywood Arclight.
Both titles largely drew an even male-female audience, with a heavy over-25 skew between 76% to 80% in their first two weeks, per PostTrak. However, given the fervor from Oscar nominations, demos have greatly changed, with Shape easily pulling in a 50/50 under-over 40 crowd. Even if non-sophisticated moviegoers are unfamiliar with del Toro’s oeuvre, or the sell of its sea creature embracing a woman in its one-sheets, the Oscar wins alone are the best advertisements when it comes to pulling in the uninitiated.
Some in distribution say that the days of seeing a Best Picture Oscar winner yielding post-win B.O. gains like Slumdog Millionaire‘s near $43M additional domestic B.O. and Million Dollar Baby’s $34M are over, given the shrunken theatrical window environment. However, that’s debatable and merely inherent in a film itself and how it’s stoking audiences. Oscar losers like last year’s Hidden Figures saw another $17M after Oscar night for a final B.O. of $169.6M, while American Sniper three years ago (already a massive B.O. hit walking into the Dolby Theatre) saw a $30M rise following the ceremony for a final domestic of $350M.