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What Oscar’s Best Picture Snafu Spells For ‘Moonlight’ & ‘La La Land’ At The B.O.; There’s A Surprising Takeaway

Deadline logo Deadline 2/27/2017 Anthony D'Alessandro
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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 already is streaming in homes on  transactional VOD and will hit DVD shelves tomorrow. Despite major chains’ refusal to book movies that are already occupying their second and third ancillary windows, exceptions typically are made for Best Picture winners. A24 will reveal its expansion plans soon for Moonlight, which currently is playing in 585 theaters and counts $22.2M.

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 jump from $140.9M to $150M, a 6% uptick. La La Land currently id 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-helmed film with. Not bad for a major studio feature that cost only $25M.

Hidden Figures brings to mind American Sniper, which two years ago walked away from the Dolby Theatre with one Oscar for sound editing. But 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 January 24. And the movie’s profile also was 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 sociopolitical morale is near rock bottom.

Hidden Figures also is part of another boxoffice trend: the resurgence of low- to-midbudgeted 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 past 10 years, those Oscar Best Picture winners that made the most additional cash following the ceremony are 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).

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