After the Oscar Nominations, a Winner: ‘Triangle of Sadness’ Is #2 on iTunes

Another winner is "To Leslie," which didn't hit any VOD chart and made less than $30,000 at the box office; today, it's #10 on iTunes.
Triangle of Sadness
"Triangle of Sadness"

After the Oscar nominations, we already have winners. On iTunes, “Triangle of Sadness” (Neon) currently stands at #2. Among films still in theaters, “The Fabelmans” (Universal), and “Women Talking” (United Artists)  saw the biggest box-office jump. Netflix currently lists “All Quiet on the Western Front” as #9 — a rare return to the charts, and a feat not duplicated by last year’s Best Director winner, Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog.”

This slate of Oscar nominees looks a lot like the ones we used to see pre-pandemic: some studio titles, some blockbusters, and a dominant specialized presence. Where it differs: The 2022 arthouse films have much lower grosses.

In a sign of how much of the specialized business has shifted to home revenues, iTunes reflected immediate reactions. Nine of its top 16 titles were nominated in the Best Picture and lead actor categories. Along with “Triangle” and “The Fabelmans” and “Women,” boosts went to “TÁR,” (Focus), “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight), “Aftersun” (A24), and “To Leslie” (Momentum). That could mean once-shaky profit prospects become reality.

Six years ago, “Moonlight” won Best Picture with a domestic gross of $28 million. At the time, that marked a record-low box office (the last two Covid years lowered the bar). At the time, observers were surprised that such a low-profile release (however critically acclaimed) could win. Among the titles it beat were “La La Land,” which grossed $151 million.

At today’s prices, “Moonlight” would have grossed $35 million. Combined, six Oscar-nominated films now on the iTunes chart (excluding Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” WBD’s “Elvis,” and A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once”) have a combined gross under $50 million. But as their initial improvements show, particularly for those films not yet with a reduced price (“Fabelmans” in particular), the potential bounty is considerable.

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, from left: Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh, 2022. ph: Allyson Riggs /© A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”Courtesy Everett Collection

Audiences favored the reduced-price titles on iTunes. There’s “Triangle,” “TÁR” (#4), and “Banshees” (also on HBO Max) at #6. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24), with 11 nominations and a strong gross ($70 million domestic), is #5. Its price recently increased to $19.99, an unusual move that seems to be paying off.

“To Leslie” starring surprise nominee Andrea Riseborough premiered at SXSW and went straight to VOD, along with a meager $27,000 total gross in a parallel theatrical play. It reached #10 on iTunes Wednesday. “The Fabelmans” rose to #12. The long-playing “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis,” both also streaming, are also in the top 15.

Although this weekend will give a better sense of the full effect, the immediate impact on films in theaters was minor. Tuesday is normally the best among Monday-Thursday grosses. Overall, they were up 41 percent from Monday. Of the films in the weekend top 25,  “The Whale” (A24) rose to#8 for the day after being #10 over the weekend, up 63 percent. “Fabelmans” had the biggest increase of (96 percent), but only grossed $95,000 on Tuesday.

“Women Talking” (United Artists) and “Living” (Sony Pictures Classics) are the two films looking to benefit immediately. They expand to 600-700 theaters this weekend after modest results so far in limited dates. “The Whale” should also get a boost.

“All Quiet on the Western Front”©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

Netflix fell short of previous nomination totals, but scored with nine nominations “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Its surprising rise came without the chatter that accompanied past nominees like “Roma,” “The Irishman,” and “The Power of the Dog.”

Like “To Leslie” and “CODA,” the success of “All Quiet on the Western Front” shows a new trend in nomination trajectories. Some credit goes to the Academy Screening Room, where qualifying films are available for home viewing. The platform gives greater access to contenders, elevating social media and other organic interest. Last year’s Best Picture winner, “CODA,” which received a limited theatrical run from Apple months before the campaign began; it was propelled by Academy member word of mouth. “Quiet” and “To Leslie” competed on a level field, with both likely viewed late in the process (often a plus).

Unlike many Netflix Oscar contenders, both “Quiet” and “Blonde” had decent initial interest on the platform. “Blonde” was briefly #1 and “Quiet” got to #2. As of Thursday, only “Quiet” has returned to the top 10.

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