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The Lowest Grossing Best Picture Winners of All Time (Adjusted for Inflation)

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | March 3, 2014 | Comments ()


12_years_a_slave_.jpg

Typically around Oscar, there are a billion pieces written about how the Oscar nominees typically do not reflect popular taste in America. That didn’t seem to be as much this case this season, although perhaps that had to do with the fact that several huge box-office succcesses were among the nominees, including Gravity ($270 million), American Hustle ($146 million), Captain Phillips ($106 million), and The Wolf of Wall Street ($114 million). Not among that $100 million club, however, was the eventual Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, which — at $50.2 million, so far, stands as the third lowest Oscar winning pic of all time, once inflation is taken into account.

Of course, we can expect some Oscar bounce, although I wouldn’t expect too much, unless it’s pushed into a ton more theaters next weekend. The Artist saw around a $10 million bounce after it won, and I would expect similar numbers for 12 Years a Slave, which would still likely keep it in the bottom five of the lowest grossing Best Picture winners.

Here’s the list, adjusted for inflation. Note that four of the ten, and the top three, are from the last decade.


10. It Happened One Night (1934) ($89 million)

9. No Country for Old Men (2007) ($88 million)

8. Marty (1955) ($72 million)

7. Crash (2004) ($68 million)

6. An American in Paris (1951) ($67 million)

5. Hamlet (1948) ($63 million)

4. All the King’s Men (1949) ($62 million)

3. 12 Years a Slave (2013) ($50.2 million so far)

2. The Artist (2011) ($47 million)

1. The Hurt Locker (2009) ($18.7 million)


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Cuthbert J. Twillie

    I assumed It Happened One Night was a huge hit.

  • John W

    Goes to show how well hyped The Artist was because I would have sworn that movie made over a $100 million at the box office.

  • David Brown

    12 years has made over 130 million worldwide; only American hubris makes some people think America matters at the box-office anymore.

  • Sean

    True. But the problem is that chasing the money in foreign markets gets us Michael Bay.

  • Sean

    The newer ones flopped partially becuase they were all available online, sometimes months before their release here in America. Also, they are smaller movies, with a limited audience. Few Americans are going to see a black and white silent French movie. Fewer still a movie about bomb techs in a war that we all really are tying to forget.

  • Cheetahdriver

    But it's for the ART! If it's popular, it can't be ART!

  • The top three all came in the last six years. Damn. I'm not sure Slave will get a theater bump either as it comes out on home video tomorrow.

    The "reflection of popular culture" pieces are as predictable as a sunrise, and I don't want the Oscars turning into the Teen Choice Awards, but it would be nice to see well-liked, well-made movies win every now and then (like Argo).

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