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

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


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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