This year nine movies have been given nods in the Best Picture category. Those movies are, as follows: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Combined, the domestic earnings for all nine of those movies currently totals a little over $609 million dollars. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, on the other hand, has already earned over $611 million at the box office in the U.S. -- more than all nine nominees combined.
When looking at the numbers more closely, by far Dunkirk and Get Out have been the most successful of the bunch. In the States, Dunkirk made $188 million and Get Out Made $175.9 million dollars in theaters. In comparison, The Post has made a little over $59.5 million, Phantom Thread has made $11 million, Three Billboards is at $37.6 million domestically, Darkest Hour clocks in at $45.5 million, Call Me By Your Name has made $11.3 million, Lady Bird is at $42 million. The Shape of Water is at $38.5 million.
It should be noted that some of these movies, including Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, The Post and others are still currently in theaters, so although CNN notes the nine combined have not toppled the might of the lone Star Wars: The Last Jedi release, it could still happen. In addition, many of these movies, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has made more money worldwide. Regardless, the point still stands. The box office of nine movies that are being lauded as the best of the year can't currently be combined to beat this one lone blockbuster.
In fact, this wasn't always the history of the Oscars.
When Forrest Gump won in 1994, the movie had made more than $330.2 million domestically and nearly $678 million worldwide. Other Best Picture winners that have made a lot of money include Titanic and -- adjusted for inflation -- Gone with the Wind. The occasional movie still manages to do extremely well in theaters and still get a Best Picture nod. Get Out is a good example this year, considering its $4.5 million budget and the fact that it did well way back in January without getting a boost from its Oscar nom. (Although it should be noted the movie is being re-released into theaters due to the Oscar nods.)
Still, the Oscars these days are often a good way for the movie studios to get eyeballs onto some of its lesser seen movies, especially if they can gain enough buzz to get a nod. These movies will be in theaters for a few more weeks as people check them out and decide whether or not they are worth the fuss. In other ways, though, fewer people tend to watch the major awards ceremonies when there aren't big movies involved.
All in all, the trend does seem to be tending toward smaller movies, but it's not as if Star Wars: The Last Jedi would likely have earned a Best Picture nod, regardless of the year. The last time a Star Wars movie got a nod in that particular category was in 1977 when Star Wars: A New Hope was given a Best Picture nomination. These days, big box office spectacles have a lot more competition.