After its surprise best picture Oscar win last night, what now for A24’s Moonlight?
Quite similar to the recent best picture winners before it, i.e. last year’s Spotlight and 2015’s Birdman, Moonlight is already streaming in homes on SVOD and will hit DVD shelves tomorrow. Despite major chains’ refusal to book movies that are already occupying their second and third ancillary windows, exceptions are typically made for best picture winners. A24 will reveal their expansion plans soon for Moonlight which is currently playing in 585 theaters and counts $22.2M.
If history is an indicator, both Spotlight and Birdman were able to raise their theater counts to 1,000-plus following their wins, respectively seeing an additional $5.9M and $4.6M at the box office. That’s likely where Moonlight‘s boost is headed, with rivals saying an additional $3M is an easy gain.
Post Oscar night, Birdman spiked 12% moving from $37.7M to $42.3M while Spotlight jumped 15%, going from $39.1M to $45M. During Moonlight‘s play, sources informed us that the Barry Jenkins movie banked most of its business from upscale theaters, and didn’t cross over in a way that Denzel Washington’s Fences did during the holidays (current B.O. $56.5M). Keep in mind, Washington is a mainstream, multiplex draw. But certainly, last night’s Oscar snafu has cast a brighter spotlight on Moonlight in regards to future cross-over success. Since Oscar nominations, Moonlight saw a 39% rise in its total domestic B.O. going from $15.97M to $22.2M.
Even without Oscar’s top prize, Lionsgate/Summit’s La La Land will remain in great shape coming off six wins last night including best director for Damien Chazelle and actress for Emma Stone. The pic’s domestic B.O. is expected to soar from $140.9M to $150M, a 6% uptick. La La Land is currently booked in 1,733 venues and that count will remain steady in the weeks to come; the big plus here being that the original musical isn’t expected to hit the home market for at least two months.
But here’s the biggest shocker coming away from last night: 20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures is expected to make more post Oscars than Moonlight and La La Land —another estimated $10M-$15M to be exact– and the movie didn’t win any awards. Final domestic lies between $162M and $168M with a possible shot at passing 2011’s The Help ($169.7M), the African American movie that many comp this Ted Melfi film to. Not bad for a major studio feature that cost only $25M.
Hidden Figures brings to mind American Sniper two years ago which walked away from the Dolby Theatre with one Oscar for sound-editing, and despite its lack of prime wins, the Clint Eastwood movie continued to hit a patriotic nerve in the flyover states seeing a $30M rise post Oscar to a final domestic of $350M.
No doubt the Oscar nom halo contributed to Hidden Figures’ 75% surge in its total B.O. since Jan. 24. And the movie’s profile was also raised last night before several million TV viewers when stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer presented the feature documentary award alongside Hidden Figures’ true life heroine, former NASA physicist/mathematician Katherine Johnson. But there’s always been something greater than Oscars propelling Hidden Figures’ B.O., and that’s its positive message about unification during a time in our nation when our social-political morale is at rock bottom.
Hidden Figures is also part of another trend at the B.O.: the resurgence of low-to-mid budgeted movies. Quite often, the notion has been in this theatrical era that theses types of movies become eroded at the B.O. given the Golden age of TV and in-home streaming; that the only films destined to thrive are uber-tentpoles like Rogue One and microbudget movies like Get Out and Split. But Hidden Figures, Fifty Shades Darker, John Wick: Chapter 2 and arguably La La Land are examples that middle budgeted fare can still break out in a big way. It just depends on how the movie is executed and positioned in the marketplace.
In the last 10 years, those Oscar best picture winners which made the most additional cash following the ceremony include Slumdog Millionaire ($43M post 2009 Oscars, final domestic $141.3M), The King’s Speech ($24.6M post 2011 Oscars, final $138.8M) and The Artist ($12.9M post Oscar 2012, final domestic $44.7M).