Oscar Disconnect: Top Box Office Movies Earned 4x More than Nominated Movies

Liberal Hollywood rewards lefty films much of public never sees.

Next time someone from Hollywood excuses its increasingly questionable content by saying, “We just make what the public wants to see,” think about the actual films the public wants to see. There’s a good chance they’re not the same ones the industry celebrates come Oscar time. 

According to Movie Guide, nine out of 10 of the highest grossing movies of 2013 contained “strong, or very strong Christian, Biblical or moral worldviews” and “no explicit sexual nudity, no Anti-American or anti-patriotic content.” But just one (“Gravity”) of the top 10 box office films was nominated for Best Picture. Some of the other Best Picture nominees read like caricatures of liberal and licentious Hollywood products. There’s the anti-Catholic “Philomena.” “The Dallas Buyers’ Club” is an AIDS drama featuring a transvestite character, and “The Wolf of Wall Street” is full of wild drug abuse and orgies – not to mention more than 500 uses of the word “f**k.” (In the meantime, the Academy of Motion Pictures disqualified the obscure Christian-themed film “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the voting for Best Original Song over what amounted to a technicality.) 

Box office isn't necessarily a reliable indication of quality, but it does say something about what the public wants. One popular film, “The Hunger Games,” made 26 times the amount at the box office as did Best Picture nominee “Nebraska.” The top 10 movies made $3.1 billion dollars at the box office in 2013, and $2.8 billion if you don’t count “Gravity.” Comparatively, the nine Best Picture Nominees earned $780 million in theatres, and had an average gross of just $86 million. Without “Gravity’s” earnings, that number is just $510 million. 

Here’s another telling number: According to a recent poll by Reuters, two-thirds of Americans did not see any of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.  Another poll from the Economist/Yougov had just 27 percent of adults reporting they had seen any of the Best Picture nominees

Certainly, the Academy is free to nominate whatever it wants, and there often a few worthy films that, for a variety of reasons, didn’t reach wide audiences. But the existence each year of two separate and almost hermetically sealed lists of movies just reinforces the public perception of the industry as cynical and elitist.

Not very long ago, Best Picture awards went to the film audiences loved the most that year. But since Hollywood has decided to turn it’s back on mainstream America, the Academy Awards show has become a self-congratulatory display of Hollywood patting itself on the back for making films that only lefty actors and directors like. In 2008, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell articulated the issue: “The Oscars used to be populist. Now they're elitist – in the worst definition of the term ... the Oscars used to award films with both artistic merit and strong audience appeal. The films that audiences love the most, movies that quickly become ‘classics,’ are today often skipped by Oscar snobs.”

This year’s most popular movies had themes of courage, sacrifice, friendship and redemption. Characters prayed, went to church and fought in clear battles of good and evil. The movies that were the most popular appealed to the majority of American’s faith, values and belief in God. With the rise in Biblical movies being released in 2014, maybe Hollywood is starting to notice what speaks to the culture will also make them more money at the theatres.

Top 10 Movies according to Boxofficemojo.com: 

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire $423,273,340

2. Iron Man 3 $409,013,994

3. Frozen $379, 250, 586

4. Despicable Me 2: $368,061,265

5. Man of Steel: $291,045,518

6. Monsters University: $268,492,764

7. Gravity: $268, 345, 782

8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug $256, 309, 318

9. Fast & Furious 6: $238, 679, 850

10. Oz the Great and Powerful $234, 911, 825

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.