Weekend B.O. Jan. 27-29 ( Did ‘Hidden Figures’ Get an Oscar Bump? + Why Oscars Nominations Don’t Matter Much)


Naturally the big question this weekend is whether any of this year’s Oscar nominated films showed any kind of “Oscar bump” (or lower than expected drop-off) at the box office because of their nominations. In the case of “Hidden Figures” which got an nomination for Best Picture, and “La La Land” which (inexplicably) got 14 nominations – a tie for the most nominations ever for a film – the answer is more so for one than the other.

In the case of “Figures” the film came in third place with the smallest b.o. drop-off of only 11%, for a weekend gross of $14 million, and a domestic gross so far of $104 million. It’s likely headed for $150 million. Meanwhile, some overseas numbers are finally coming in for the film, from Hungary and Spain, for a total of just under $850,000. The film finally opens in the UK next month where it’s already getting some very strong interest and advance buzz.

However “La La Land’s” b.o. weekend numbers actually increased by 43%, making just over $12 million for $106.5 million here in the States, and a total so far of $223.5 million worldwide.

But once again M. Night Shyamalan’s suspense film “Split” was No. 1 at the b.o. for the second weekend in row, with $26 million and just under $78 million to date domestically, and $101 million worldwide.

The family movie “A Dog’s Purpose” came in second with $18.4 million, though the film was expected to be No.1 this weekend. I mean it’s about dogs. How could it lose? But the news reports about animals being mistreated during the making of the film, may have hurt it at the box office.

Getting back to the Oscars for a second… of course, there’s been a lot of discussion this week about the “new reality” reflected in this year’s Oscar nominations because of the diversity represented. A record six black actors where nominated for Oscars in acting categories, but also for Best Director and Screenplay (Barry Jenkins), the first time for black filmmakers for Best Cinematography (Bradford Young for “Arrival”) and the first nomination for a black woman editor (Joi McMillon for “Moonlight”), as well as for producer Kimberly Stewart for her first film “Manchester by the Sea”. So it’s no surprise that there were a lot of people saying that this is a new day, and things will never be the same when it comes to the lack of Oscars nominees and winners of color.

Let’s see whether the same things are being said next year. I’ve seen several lists of films that are scheduled to be released this year, and from those lists, the number of black films or films that have black actors in major roles, are pretty limited.

Of course there are many independently made black films as is the case every year, so we’ll be keeping our eye out for those. The overwhelming majority of black films made every year are made totally outside the studio system. If they’re lucky, they might get some major film festival attention, which could lead to bigger things. And yes there are always unexpected surprises. “Moonlight” was completely under the radar (except for here at S & A) until it was first seen at the Telluride Film Festival in August. And Fox Searchlight may have an art house hit and a possible Oscar contender in the documentary field with “Step”, which they picked up last week at Sundance for $4 million.

But it looks like the 2018 Oscars might suffer another case of #OscarsSoWhite, despite this year’s nominees. What happens then? More articles and complaints about the lack of diversity in Hollywood? Now granted, a lot of has to do with timing. It just happened that we had a coupe of Oscar worthy black films this year. It took Barry Jenkins at least 3 years to find the little money he needed to make “Moonlight” until someone introduced him to Brad Pitt who loved the project, and developed it under the umbrella of his Plan B production company.

And with “Fences”, it took some 20 years – even back when Eddie Murphy, believe it not, was attached to it – to finally get made, only after other major financiers, such as Charles King’s Marco Ventures, came in to finance a chunk of the budget, and made it for a very reduced budget, with all cast and crew taking huge pay cuts.

“Figures” had, in comparison, a relatively quick development process, but that’s because the ex-CEO of Fox Group Peter Chernin, owned the property and deeply loved it and has a deal with his former studio that says they will finance every year, as a favor to him, one smaller budgeted project that he’s really passionate about. And it so happens that film was “Figures” last year. This year his “passion” project is the wilderness survival drama “The Mountain Between Us” with Kate Winslett and Idris Elba; but nothing like “Figures” can be expected this year.

Also let’s be honest, how many black films can be considered truly “Oscar worthy”? 90% of most films released every year (race-irrelevant) are not, so why should the ratio be higher for black films? Also, as I have mentioned before, I have a serious problem with this idea that an Oscar nomination makes a black film worthy or valuable in the eyes of black audiences? As if white approval is needed for a black film before it can be considered even equal to a white film. What if “Fences” didn’t get a any Oscar nominations at all? That makes it less of a film? The filmgoers will still love the film, and I don’t think most would care at all. The film works for them and that should be enough.

I think the emphasis should be on more black directors making more black films, and let the whole Oscar chase be damned. If a black film, or some black actors, get a nomination, that’s great. But if not, it’s nothing to be distressed over.

Meanwhile, getting back to the B.O. numbers, the sixth (and they claim the final) “Resident Evil” film, subtitled “The Final Chapter”, opened with the lowest total for any of the films in the franchise, which goes back to 2002. But the film has already grossed another $65 million overseas so far, over half of that in Japan alone, so we’ll see if they really mean it when they say that this will be the last one.

As for the Weinstein Company, they’re currently struggling at the box office. Stellar reviews, positive word of mouth and a few Oscar nominations have helped “Lion” to be a modest success, though it is still in limited release. However “The Founder” is sinking; while their new film “Gold” with Matthew McConaughey, bombed this weekend with just under $3.5 million, giving more talk to the rumors that the company might be up on the auction block sometime this year.

This weekend’s top 12 grossers follows below:

1) Split Uni. $26,268,685 Total: $77,998,775
2) A Dog’s Purpose Uni. $18,386,020 Total: $18,386,020
3) Hidden Figures Fox $14,000,000 Total: $104,021,694
4) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter SGem $13,850,000 Total: $13,850,000
5) La La Land LG/S $12,050,000 Total: $106,509,372
6) xXx: The Return of Xander Cage Par. $8,250,000 Total: $33,487,750
7) Sing Uni. $6,213,710 Total: $257,405,085
8) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story BV $5,124,000 Total: $520,049,573
9) Monster Trucks Par. $4,100,000 Total: $28,135,147
10) Gold Wein. $3,470,000
11) Patriots Day LGF $2,850,000 Total: $28,381,241
12) The Founder Wein. $2,676,000 -Total: $7,503,067


  1. I’m surprised A Dog’s Purpose even came in 2nd. The irony of a film attempting to convince people of a dog’s value and purpose while torturing and nearly drowning them behind the scenes.

  2. I agree that black filmmakers shouldn’t go out of there way for the Oscar nod, but I feel some black industry folks feel, that they would be leaving (mainstream)money on the table if they didn’t jockey for a nod. I don’t think the Image Awards would have nominated ‘Moonlight’ ten years ago, due to it’s gay characters…but ‘Pariah’ did win one in 2012, so what do I know.
    Films like ‘The Founder’, ‘Gold’, and even ‘War Dogs’, should have been released a few years ago, along with “The Big Short’ & ‘Wolf of Wall Street”. Folks don’t want to see movies about ‘rich guys’ screwing over working class folks in this day & age.
    Those ‘Resident Evil’ films will get a reboot, minus Milla Jovovich. Same goes for those vampire/werewolf movies.

    • I think Mo’Nique’s refusal in trying to win an Oscar was a wake up call that you have to play the game. The studio put out money for the product and if they can’t make money off of it just by their marketing, they want the assume accolade boost to help them recoup their losses. And, let’s face it, getting a NAACP or Image Award for your performance isn’t going to boost how much money a film makes. Mainstream media doesn’t make those awards seem important and we sure as hell don’t. How many people even know when those awards are held? Much less which station?

      And more than likely Resident Evil will get rebooted and probably should have years ago with a less action and a more horror tone.

  3. Technically the Oscars still aren’t that diverse adding a handful of Black names but shutting out Latinx and Asians, much less those from the continent, doesn’t bring the idea of the best of the best being nominated. We just, if anything, went from #OscarsSoWhite to #OscarsSoGuilty. So, needless to say, there is a long way to go.

    since it only features Black American, Mixed Irishmand Whtie folk. Surely there were quality Latinos, Asians, and African performances, right?

  4. White approval has nothing to do with black appreciation of black content. Those who care about awards want nonwhite inclusion and those nonwhite talents also want their moment of global recognition. The value of a black film relies on the community wrapping itself around it (replaying it and memorizing dialogue) usually goes a long way.

    Now for black art films NACCP are not high minded in what they bestow their prizes to: Soul Food over Eve’s Bayou, Stella over Beloved. These black band aid awards prefer the commercial comfort food the studios grant with a soundtrack attached. So white acceptance for the black art house movie is crucial.

    • Can I nominate your first paragraph for a Wikipedia article?

      Soul Food vs. Eve’s Bayou. Incest vs. infidelity and alleged molestation. The choice came down to choosing between the lesser of family dysfunction.

      Stella vs. Beloved. Black female bourgeoisie midlife crisis vs. infanticide / slavery / supernatural sex. The choice came down to a tropical slice of life film versus overwrought human atrocities.

      Image awards aren’t about cinematic excellence. Image awards are about relevant films that resonates within the black community.

  5. It won’t be OscarssoWhite next year if they include Asians, Latinos etc. Remember diversity is not just about White and Black.

  6. “I think the emphasis should be on more black directors making more black films, and let the whole Oscar chase be damned…. it’s nothing to be distressed over. ”

    Not so fast Lippy the Lion, be careful what you ask for. You’re implying that you’d take quantity over quality. Listen, without a doubt a film’s lights shine when the word “Oscar” is near. And this has nothing to do with “white approval”. I mean, when a film reaches that status, it simply says to the world that this film is better than most. Past history will attest to that. I doubt there has ever been a film worthy of praise which didn’t receive Oscar buzz and thus fell by the wayside.

    I am suggest that an Oscar consideration has huge relevance. Besides, I would think a film’s goal would be global recognition from their peers, black and white.

    And look, when I see the word “Oscar”____________ <—- whatever . that film cuts the line of films on my must see list. In fact, this year I've seen every film that has received a nomination in the major categories (ie. actors, movie, director, supporting, etc.). That's important to note because I am sure there are others like me who would not have watched one or two of the black flicks (and some white ones) if it wasn't for the Oscar buzz.

    In short, give me Oscar buzz over black quantity.

    And last… “La La Land” which (inexplicably) got 14 nominations". Well, from my perspective I's say the same about Moonlight. I still don't understand its appeal. Wait, check that… there's possibly a few voters who were snickering while giving their stamp of approval to Moonlight. Why not shine a light on the black drug dealer, his crack head customer and a film on the emasculation of the black man, they probably thought. Heck, they stopped protesting, crying and shouting "oscarsowhite" when we gave the help, the bad cop and the dysfunctional momma an award, so lets do it again. That's it, now I understand.

    • Thank you for this comment.

      Every year the same tiresome “blacks don’t need the white Oscars” argument gets trotted out. Here’s my comparison: the Oscars is similar to the Super Bowl and the NBA championships. They’re all considered the pinnacle achievement in their respective industries. No one in their right mind argues that teams shouldn’t want to win a Super Bowl. Why do we debate wanting to win an Oscar? It is THE top international filmmaking award. Period. Yes, there are politics involved in the choices—especially for the top awards—but it’s still the single most prestigious honor for filmmakers. I’m not arguing that one should TRY to win an Oscar; I think making the best film possible should be the number one goal of filmmaking. But once that film is completed, it’s understandable that those involved with the film would want their work recognized by their peers. That recognition can also be a career and/or financial boost.

      Black folks need to stop this thinking that there are areas of human existence that are off-limits to us. I believe it’s this defeatist thinking that contributes to our overall lack of success. WE as a people need to believe that we can achieve anything, have anything and do anything. And that includes making exceptional films that receive the top honors.

      • The problem with this is that there are a bunch of mediocre performances and films from Whites that get nominated and awarded Oscars every year. The Reader got nominated for best picture and that got a 59 on metacritic. The Oscars are by no means a deciding factor of great films. We have to remember it’s not the critics who vote for the Oscars it’s the Academy.

        • “The Oscars are by no means a deciding factor of great films”

          But again “it’s still the single most prestigious honor for filmmakers”.

          “There are a bunch of mediocre performances and films from Whites that get nominated and awarded Oscars every year” That’s your opinion Nikki. And it still does not trump the fact that the Oscar turns head and generates money for the filmmakers.

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