An image from "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part II", which has earned over $1.3 billion at the global box office.
Last month, I tweeted this:
If only there was some way to visualize the importance of visual effects films to the box office. http://twitpic.com/8ax8t0
The above chart was made by the website BoxOfficeQuant.com, which, as many pointed out, only chose certain categories to chart, since they made the chart to support a specific point in one of their articles.
This inspired me to make my own, complete chart, customized to include everything I wanted to see. I wanted to visualize the average global box office take of each of the nominees of each category of the 84th Academy Awards. I had an idea of how the graph would ultimately turn out, but I wasn't expecting it to be this lopsided. Click here to see a larger version of the chart.
Now, I can happily, confidently and completely say that visual effects films have a significantly higher box office take than any other Oscar category for this year's 84th Academy Awards. The average nominee for Best Visual Effects earned over $662 million in global box office.
This should surprise virtually no one. Visual effects get people into the theaters. Our amazing images, brilliant spectacles, and never-before-seen worlds are the new movie stars, not just domestically, but globally.
To be fair, the Academy usually rewards actors and directors of prestige pictures with nominations-- films that don't typically earn hundreds of millions of dollars. I think it is, however, significant to illustrate this idea - out of all of these important categories of filmmaking that the Academy wishes to celebrate with awards, it is clear the visual effects branch's films are doing the heavy lifting of selling tickets around the world, lifting the industry.
It also illustrates the sad state of the visual effects community. The average Oscar nominee for visual effects made over $662 million globally, and yet our industry has relatively little power in Hollywood.
Some notes: Had this been a typical year, the Animated Feature average would have been much higher, since two out of the five nominees from this year have yet to see a wide release. But even if those two nominees made, say, $350M globally, it wouldn't have pushed the average even close to the visual effects average of $662M. Also, the Makeup category was significantly bolstered by the inclusion of "Harry Potter 7.2" (which currently has a global box office take of $1.3 billion), which offset its two very modest fellow nominees, "The Iron Lady" and "Albert Nobbs" (which has yet to have a wide release).
And, just to state the obvious, it would be interesting to see what this chart looks like for, say, the last 10 years of Academy Awards, to see if this years' chart is an anomaly, or if this is a good reflection of a decade's worth of data.
Showing my work; a CSV of the data is here.