Are These ‘Best Picture’ Oscar Nominees Good Investments?
Marketing costs and opaque accounting can make it hard to tell whether hot-ticket movies are profitable. Here’s our take on which 2016 best picture nominees are making their financial backers happy. (All box office figures as of Jan. 19.)
The Big Short
Global box office: $70 million
Adam McKay’s dark-comedy account of the U.S. financial crisis actually made more money internationally than in the U.S. the week after Oscar nominations were announced.
Bridge of Spies
Photograph by Jaap Buitendijk — Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett Collection
Global box office: $157 million
Steven Spielberg’s moody Cold War drama, made for about $40 million, has earned more than $50 million in Western Europe—and around $2 million in Russia. Détente, anyone?
Mad Max: Fury Road
Global box office: $376 million
The vehicular-mayhem adventure, which had a budget of $150 million, pulled in $222 million outside the U.S.—despite not having been released in China. That wasn’t enough to enable the movie to crack the global top 10 for 2015.
Global box office: $598 million
The best-performing movie among the Best Picture nominees, it opened on a whopping 3,854 screens. Some 62% of its total take came from outside the U.S., according to Box Office Mojo.
Global box office: $6 million
As of nomination day, this drama was the sixth-lowest-grossing Best Picture nominee of the past 33 years, but it has a low budget to match, with three production companies sharing the risk.
Photography by Fox Searchlight/Everett Collection
Global box office: $25 million
Backers of this coming-of-age tale included the Irish Film Board and BBC Films. Its marketing budget was reportedly unusually high for an indie, but strong results abroad could make it profitable.
Global box office: $156 million
It earned more Oscar nominations (12) than any other movie—and it needed the resulting box-office bump, since production costs alone (not including marketing) ballooned past $130 million.
Global box office: $31 million
This movie’s tight focus on a very specific American milieu—journalists and Catholics in Boston—could make it a tough sell abroad. Its production costs were an estimated $20 million.
For more, read “How to Make a Profit in the New Hollywood.”
A version of this article appears in the February 1, 2016 issue of Fortune.