In the Market, Get Out and Dunkirk Won the Race for Best Picture

Get Out grossed more than 56 times its budget. Dunkirk earned the most, by far, of any 2018 Best Picture nominee.


Hahn Lionel/ABACA/Newscom

Taking home the top prize at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony requires winning the favor of an exclusive group of movie-making professionals. Even after a deliberate effort to extend Oscar voting rights to a larger number of people, the Academy of Motion Picture Acts and Sciences has a mere 6,700 members.

But this year's Best Picture nominees were seen by millions of people around the world, each of whom voted with their wallets whenever they went to the theater during the past year. In all, this year's nine nominees grossed over $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office, returning a profit of nearly $1.2 billion (which seems like a really good reason to stop subsidizing movies with tax dollars, by the way!).

The spoils were not divided evenly. Christopher Nolan's time-warping World War II film Dunkirk was easily the top-grossing movie among the Best Picture nominees, earning more than $525 million internationally—that's more than one-third of all the money earned by the nine nominees in the category. Dunkirk, though, was also by far the most expensive movie to earn a Best Picture nod, with a budget that was twice as high as the next most costly film: Steven Spielberg's The Post.

In the marketplace, Jordan Peele's woke horror flick Get Out is the clear winner. Despite costing just $4.5 million, Get Out has grossed more than $255 million for an incredible return on investment that's better than 5,600 percent.

BoxOfficeMojo.com (Accessed 3/4/2018); Chart by Eric Boehm

This year's Best Picture nominees are the lowest-earning since the 2011 batch, according to Variety. With the exception of Dunkirk (and maybe Get Out), there's not a single film on the list that can rightfully be called a blockbuster. But budgets were relatively low across the board as well, and most of the nominees will end up returning at least five times what they cost to make.

In a year when the race for Best Picture seems closer than usual, the process used to pick the winner might be a factor. Unlike all the other awards handed out at the Oscars, winning Best Picture requires more than a simple plurality of the votes cast. The Academy uses a preferential voting system—the Los Angeles Times has a good explainer of how it works—that can benefit movies for being "least disliked" instead of being the top choice of the widest number of voters.

That's not a bad way to run an election—indeed, it's similar to the ranked choice voting system that some states have experimented with as a way to limit the power of the two dominant parties—but no democratic system is going to be as robust oras responsive to the will of the people as the collective decision-making power of consumers.

The Oscars reward the art of filmmaking, of course, not merely the ability to put people in seats. And obviously, simply paying to see a movie isn't the same as liking it, let alone wanting to give it an award. But tonight's prizes, and the motion picture industry itself, wouldn't exist if people didn't want to spend their money on movies. And when it comes to the marketplace, this year's Best Picture frontrunners are pretty clear.

NEXT: Victor Frankenstein Is the Real Monster

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  1. Dunkirk was a horrendous piece of shit movie and I love war movies.

    Didn’t think a director and writing team could turn a very interesting story regarding a WWII battle and completely fuck it up.

    Figures this film would get awards because awards are given out for everyone who competes now.

    1. Nah, it was a very good movie. Only one I saw in the theater last year other than a 50th anniversary digital print of Bonnie and Clyde (which is something less than seeing the same fucking thing in somebody’s “home theater).

      1. Alexander Nevsky is more LoveCons style.

        1. Is that kind of like the Fast and the Furious series?

      2. What makes it a good movie for you?

    2. More evudence you’re a useless tool.

      1. You’re an evidunce alright.

    3. I love some war movies and am as biased and unpredictable as everyone else

      1. Not really. There is no explanation as to why Dunkirk is a good movie.

        I gave a general explanation as to why I consider it a bad movie.

        Liking movies is subjective, duh.

    4. Dunkirk was a good film. It was more about the realities of being in the chaos, not about hoo rah rah, we won WW2.

      A soft core porn film where some chick does an amphibian won the Oscars… What a time to be alive.

      1. sleeping with the fishes last century = The Godfather
        sleeping with the fishes this century = The Shape of Water

      2. “A soft core porn film where some chick does an amphibian won the Oscars… What a time to be alive.”

        Doctor Krieger would approve.

    5. It was a great movie. It’s just not a war movie. And a movie brave enough not to give too much air time to the “big” actors.

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    7. Nolan has become a boring director. HIs batman movies that seemed refreshing early on devolved into a overmeditative overlong narrative. I still cant believe the same guy made Memento which was more kinetic than his subsequent movies

  2. The suggestion that “top selling” equals “best” is ridculous.

    1. The primary function of a movie is to make money and you make money by selling tickets, by entertaining people for a couple hours. So how else would you determine “best”? Somebody’s subjective opinion of what matters most in a movie?

      Which is a better car, a Rolls Royce or a Honda Accord? There’s a thousand ways a Rolls is superior to a Honda, but the Honda beats the Rolls in affordability and that’s the criterion that beats all the rest, which is why Rolls sales are measured in thousands and Accord sales are measured in millions. A car you can afford beats a car you can’t afford, so clearly the Accord is the better car. A movie lots of people will pay to go see beats a movie few people will pay to go see and the acting, the story, the cinematography, what have you, don’t enter into it.

      1. Wrong.

        The main question someone will ask about a movie an acquaintance has seen is “Was it any good?” and not how much money it is making.

        1. Good is subjective. Sales are not.

          1. “The main question someone will ask about a movie an acquaintance has seen is “Was it any good?” and not how much money it is making.”

            Turd is an idiot, so his comments are NWS.

          2. The problem is you cannot really have a judgement of quality on a movie until you have seen it, and then you don’t need to buy a ticket again.

          3. once the sale is made, the movie can still suck big ones!

            1. Yes, it you get an idea if a film is good from things like the rate of ticket sale drop off week to week. Bad films tend to drop off fast.

        2. And if all the early viewers tell their friends it wasn’t any good, it’s not going to do well at the box office.

          It’s a reasonably safe bet that for any top grossing movie, most of the people who saw it, thought it was pretty good.

          1. Yeah, but some ungodly amount of ticket sales are to teenagers.

            One Roger Ebert (alive) > 20 million teenager opinions.

            1. “Yeah, but some ungodly amount of ticket sales are to teenagers.
              One Roger Ebert (alive) > 20 million teenager opinions.”
              Turd is an idiot, so his comments are NWS.

          2. Mathew Slyfield :
            Spoken/written like someone who hasn’t seen The Last Jedi.

      2. Jerryskids :
        Selling millions of Accords is great, but you need to employ tens of thousands of people to do it, and the profit margin per vehicle is small. Rolls Royces requires a lot less workers, and the profit per vehicle is much higher. So is the Accord better for Honda than the Corniche is for Rolls? In this specific case probably yes, but that’s because out of all the more affordable cars, the Accord is a stand out car. The Mitsubishi Galant was also much more affordable than a Rolls, but it wasn’t a “better” car, even by your very narrow criterion.
        It’s much easier to see in the housing market. I have two friends who build houses. One does it on the Jersey shore (very expensive) and the other does it in the southern suburbs of Philly. The second guy (Philly) builds houses that are much more affordable and he builds more of them, however the first guy ( Jersey shore) makes only 4 or 5 houses a year and makes much more money. Which houses are “better”? For consumers it’s not clear because if you can afford to live on the beach you might really want to, for the manufacturer, well the guy building down at the shore is doing better. For the general public you can sort of make a case that the less expensive houses in the burbs of Philly are “better”. That’s pretty much the argument you’re making about Accords vs Rolls.
        Casio sells more watches than Rolex, but makes less money than Rolex. I don’t know anyone who claims that the watches Casio makes are “better” than Rolex.

        1. His is a textbook example of the Argumentum ad populum fallacy.

          1. No, his argument is that the measurement of how good the movie is should depend on the sales. If you are judging by popular opinion then making the judgement by popular opinion cannot be a fallacy.

            Kind of like how election results, even if the result is stupid, are not fallacious just because they’re decided by public opinion.

            1. Otherwise weighting Ebert higher than everyone else would be an appeal to authority. If your measure of how good a movie is based on expert opinion, it’s not a fallacy.

            2. The quality of a film is not dependent on popular opinion whatsoever.

              If ‘Casablanca’ had sat in a can and no one had ever seen it – it would still be a great movie.

              1. You actually said something I agree with.

          2. “His is a textbook example of the Argumentum ad populum fallacy.”
            Turd is an idiot, so his comments are NWS.

          3. Here is a textbook example of someone not knowing what the Argumentum ad populum fallacy is. Back to school with you!

        2. Not sure I agree with your examples. Is the debate which picture is best for the producers/directors/actors/ect. or the audience? I would argue that the auto industry’s customers are indifferent to the Rolls and Rolls doesn’t have a reputation for advancing auto travel. Perhaps the better example is the Lexus. It is more affordable and common and it usually has features that become standard on the Accord a year or so later. As to Casio versus Rolex, technically the Casio is the better watch. It keeps more accurate time. I have a Casio G Shock, it is solar powered and the time is adjusted by radio wave. It also changed automatically for daylight savings time changes. The Rolex does none of that particularly being accurate. It just has much more status. I don’t care about that just actual features so to me the Casio is the better watch by a large margin because of those features.

    2. But so is the suggestion that Oscar winning equals best.

  3. I watched Dunkirk on a long flight. It made me forget I was on an airplane, so I would vote for it on that basis alone.
    But otherwise, screw Hollywood and everyone in it.

    1. It’s even better on a big screen.

  4. If the best picture is the one that made the most money, then Star Wars wins. The 12th installment of Transformers and the 26th of Fast and Furious also made a lot more than any of the nominees. Sad that such wonderful movies aren’t even nominated!

    1. Except for Rogue One, there is no “Star Wars” after episode 6.

      1. And even then, the only scene in Rogue One that left any sort of impression is Darth Vader killing people.

        1. Vader brutally slaughtering rebel scum was most entertaining. EspI finally when he force lifted that when rebel to the ceiling and swung his lightsaber around upwards, bisecting him at the torso. Couldn’t help chuckling over that.

  5. Get Out is the best horror movie in decades. Possibly the best horror movie ever. Everybody should see it, but especially white people. Our white privilege prevents us from truly understanding what it means to be a POC in America, of course. But the film provides a useful illustration of the violence done to black and brown bodies by a white supremacist system.

    1. It was an interesting concept for a horror movie that was ruined by the sjw “all white people are racist” narrative. I want my ten dollars back.

    2. black and brown bodies

      This is rather dehumanizing, no?

      1. I didn’t come up with the expression. If a POC tells me it’s like the N-word in that I’m not allowed to use it but they are, then I’ll stop using it.

        1. You are an inspiration. I’m taking notes, I hope you don’t mind.

          1. His trolling is excellent, demonstrating a complete commitment.

          2. my note: this clown is a fucking idiot…feel free to copy.

        2. N-word


          1. Ninjas.

            1. no-goodniks?

          2. Not my kind

        3. can we still use swamp guineas?

  6. Speaking of the Oscars. My gf wants to watch it and I want to watch anything else. So we are compromising and watching the Oscars. Anyway they just had that Asian chick from the new not-star wars movie on. She is even more annoying in real life.

    1. Buy another tv

      1. I suppose that’s the other option…

    2. I could never date someone that wants to watch the Oscars.

  7. Sales are a tough thing to go by because they’re largely a function of how many screens they have to show. The theaters have to make that decision based on information that isn’t in the market yet; meanwhile, the studios are advertising based on the assumption that there will be plenty of screens.

    I say bring back the studio system.

    1. That’s a one way effect, they can drag down the gross of a good movie by not showing it on many screens, but it won’t matter how many screens they schedule it for if no one wants to watch it.

  8. I just saw 3 Billboards and thought it was a libertarian epic. It vindicated free speech and was viciously anti-police-state. In fact I almost felt bad for the police and would implore them not to all go kill themselves. We still need them, just a little less, and so we just need to roll it back slowly. Everyone will be fine I promise!

  9. Conservative hatred of our movie industry amuses me.

    The first time I noticed it was in the 80s while a couple of us were watching ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. One of our friends dropped by and refused to stay because he “wouldn’t watch them two goddamn liberals” in the movie. I didn’t even know at the time that Paul Newman and Robert Redford had political notions.

    So tonight, for all you conservatives here – go fuck yourself. It’s just a fucking movie.

    1. I’ve never come across someone more obsessed with the people they hate than you.

      1. WTF dude?

        Do you not know any conservatives?

        They fucking hate everyone and everything else.

        1. I know lots of conservatives, and they’re not anything like conservatives that live in your head.

          I do find that people who insist on injecting political opinions in the most pushy way possible are liberals. I’ve talked to lefties who INSISTED that vaccines make people sick and corporations are hiding it.

        2. ehhh…mostly they just hate you….just saying

        3. PB I have never seen more anger and hatred out of anyone more than I have progressives. Typically when I try and have a rational discussion with one face to face they insist on stopping after a few minutes because they’re getting angry and won’t be able to control themselves. So,etching I never ever see out of non progressives.

          Progressives are full of hatred for anything other than their own ideas, because everything is based on their feelings. As opposed to rational thought.

      2. When one has nothing about their self to like, it’s easier to hate others than to be confronted with their own inadequacy.

        1. When one has nothing about their self to like, it’s easier to hate others than to be confronted with their own inadequacy.

          Nothing truer has ever been written about conservatives.

          1. Try harder.

          2. Nothing truer has ever been written about Palin’s Buttplug…FTFY

  10. Dunkirk was meh. A really good war movie was Das Boat.

    1. Das Boot please. I remember it well because an artsy farsty friend wanted to see it based only on the poster and thinking it was an artsy fartsy movie about an actual boot. I could see the submarine and I knew what U-boat stands for and knew what the movie was about, so said sure, which surprised her, then she was surprised by the movie. A fun day 🙂

      1. I saw that movie back when it came out, and I was very disappointed because I wanted to see every one of those nazi bastards die a horrible death as their submarine sank to its crush depth.


        1. I would think that the actual ending was satisfying for you.

    2. Yes, in German “boot” is pronounced as “boat” but if your going to translate the name of the picture it is, “The Boat”.

  11. Darn it, something came up and I won’t be able to watch the entire ceremony. Can anybody here do me a favor and compile a racial diversity report of presenters and winners? I want to make sure they’ve fixed the problem of #OscarsSoWhite.

    1. I just hope Dustin Hoffman has the good sense not to attend, out of respect.


      1. I had to throw away my Rain Man DVD when I discovered he is an accused sexual predator.

        1. As long as you still kept your Papillon DVD. One of the best movies ever made.

      2. Is it safe … for me to be in a room alone with Dustin Hoffman?

        1. Can you fend off a small elderly man?

    2. Kinda golden, isn’t it? And no dick, so I don’t think it’s male.

  12. Hopefully, Phantom Thread wins Best Picture.

    I haven’t seen it yet but I love all PTA movies.

    1. That overhyped Oscar bait?

      Anyway, all that matters is that Gary Oldman gets his Oscar. If he doesn’t, the Oscars will have negative credibility.

        1. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ has a 92%, and it sucked. To put it mildly, Rotten Tomatoes has a type I error problem.

      1. Gary Oldman was fantastic in Interstate 60.

        1. He was often fantastic, and he’s overdue for an Oscar.

      2. Gary Oldman is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen. The range and depth of his acting ability are astounding.

    2. Does Phantom Thread even have any prominent roles for performers of color? I watched its IMDB trailer and didn’t notice a single POC. With white nationalism on the rise in the US, the last thing we want is a repeat of #OscarsSoWhite.

      Get Out is the best movie of 2017 (left column) and the 4th best movie of all time (right column). It clearly deserves to win over your white-male-makes-clothes-for-white-people movie.

      1. Check out the credits again. Dave Chappelle plays the butler in it.

        1. Turd is an idiot, so his comments are NWS.

  13. Doesn’t work that way. People shell out money for tickets before seeing the movie. They won in the market of expectations.

    1. Does work that way. Any movie that didn’t meet expectations would suffer from word of mouth reviews by the first viewers and sales would drop off too fast to set any records. Movies that make lots of money get sales based on personal recommendations by friends.

    2. “People shell out money for tickets before seeing the movie. They won in the market of expectations.”

      If that were goo criteria, the Edsel would have been a success.
      Stated compared to revealed preferences, and the ‘stated’ can be an early ‘bet’ on the outcome.

  14. Hollywood is producing some pretty big piles of crap lately. It’d be nice if they all just moved to the utopia of Wakanda and left the rest of us alone.

    1. Why so cranky? Not a Hollywood fan? You still have plenty of choice in American entertainment, from Blake Shelton to ‘rasslin matches, NASCAR races to rattlesnake juggling exhibitions, revival meetings to stone-skipping, FOX news to Hee-Haw reruns, square dances to cow-tipping. And don’t forget that Rick Santorum puts out a superstition-laced movie for gullible audiences every spell or so.

      1. I really hate watching NASCAR, but I’d take it over having to watch the new star wars movie again.

        I’m asking for quality in the realm of movies like Schindler’s List, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump; hell at this point Titanic is starting to look good.

      2. we also have faggot shooting and nigger hanging …oops not supposed to talk about that…first rule and all!!!!

      3. You still have plenty of choice in American entertainment, from Blake Shelton to ‘rasslin matches

        Uh, WWE fans tend to vote Democrat, when they bother voting at all.

    2. It’d be nice if they all just moved to the utopia of Wakanda and left the rest of us alone.

      Pretty sure they aren’t forcing you to watch anything.

    3. isn’t that the island of Manhattan spelled in Ebonics?

      1. No, Wakanda has a strict “No Immigrants” policy, even among their own race.

        1. can I be a Wakanda Dreamer? oh wait a competent nation ruled by black people…fantasy island level sci-fi!

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  16. Don’t you dare insult wrestling, that is just un-American.

  17. sooo fish fucking & little boy fucking are money making genre’s now? asking for a friend…

  18. To me, I think the problem is that the primary purpose of the movie industry is to entertain which conflicts with goals of the Oscars which is to judge the movies on their technical attributes. The conflict is that what industry insiders judge as the best movie is not always the most entertaining as witnessed by No Country For Old Men. Like none of the people the guy killed weren’t armed with at a minimum a knife was asking to suspend belief just too much.

    Perhaps the movie industry would be better served with what the book industry does with categories like best science fiction.

  19. Umm, if I invest 35 million and earn 38 million (as did the Phantom Thread investors), my return on investment is 9% =(38-35)/35 = 3/35, not 109%. Same with the other numbers, I presume.

    1. Maybe they made up a new statistic, return of investment. 109% of the investment returned, I guess.

  20. Get Out looked pretty good for a 4.5M movie. did that budget include postproduction too? You wonder how some of these terrible romantic comedies get made for 40-50M.

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