Sunday, February 21, 2016

Visual Effects, Oscars and the Box Office in 2015

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was the top earner of this year's visual effects Oscar nominees, at $1.98B global box office (as of 2/3/2016). 

Just as I did for 2014 films2013 films2012 films and 2011 films, I thought it would be interesting to track the average global box office grosses from this year's Academy Award nominees, per category.

The five nominees for this year's visual effects earned a total global box office gross of about $3.3B. The monster earner was "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at nearly $2B; rounding out the Visual Effects nominees were "The Martian" at $600M, "Mad Max: Fury Road" at $376M, "The Revenant" at $288M and "Ex Machina" at $36M.

The 2015 chart doesn't look like any of the other years' charts, since "The Force Awakens", a $2B earner, was nominated for five Oscars, which exploded the average earning for all five of those categories. In every other year, Visual Effects towers over all the other Oscar categories.

In fact, for the first time since I've been charting average box office earnings per Academy Awards categories, visual effects is not the top earning category. This year, Best Sound edged out visual effects with an average of $682M per nominee (as opposed to Visual Effects' $657M per nominee).

The reason Sound eclipsed Visual Effects? The two categories share four out of five nominees. The fifth nominee in Sound was "Bridge of Spies" ($162M), while the fifth nominee in Visual Effects was "Ex Machina" ($36M).

The last five years at a glance:

Average global box office of Best Visual Effects films:
2015 (88th Academy Awards) - $657M
Top Grosser: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, $2B

2014 (87th Academy Awards) - $723M
Top Grosser: Guardians of the Galaxy, $774M

2013 (86th Academy Awards) - $698M
Top Grosser: Iron Man 3, $1.2B

2012 (85th Academy Awards) - $763M
Top Grosser: The Avengers, $1.5B

2011 (84th Academy Awards) - $662M
Top Grosser: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, 1.35B

I wrote this concerning the 2011 box office when I charted the box office averages for the 84th Academy Awards, and unfortunately, this still is true.

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.

All data from .

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