'Identity Thief' Beats Oscar Winners: What Happened to Box Office Bumps for Oscar Favorites?

Yahoo Contributor Network

It's been fairly obvious that every one of the Oscar nominated films this year needed a boost of winning Oscars to get back into the running at the box office. Nearly every one had been languishing in the bottom five box office or lower since the beginning of the year. Nominated favorites "Lincoln", "Argo", "Silver Linings Playbook", and "Life of Pi" had nearly and perplexingly fallen off the map to movies that are unarguably less than half in quality.

In a different era, we would have seen "Argo" jump back to #1 after winning the Oscar best picture. However, it didn't, and it never even re-entered the top ten. The only movie to get any boost at all was "Silver Linings" when it jumped back up to #6 this weekend.

It's been even worse for the others. "Argo" is currently #12, "Life of Pi" #13, "Zero Dark Thirty" at #16, "Django Unchained" at #17, and "Lincoln" at a depressingly abysmal #18. So what can we say happened that made people decide to not go see these films in a theater in favor of the critically-panned comedy "Identity Thief?"

The reason may be simple enough: People perhaps aren't in a mood for heavy dramas and want something lighter. Or, the fact that "Argo" is already out on Blu-ray could have put a damper on making more money at the box office. That's one thing we have to say for dramas at the Oscars this year: They were emotionally intense and required more attention.

Not that we don't know that late winter is becoming the new Dog Days of movies over the last decade. More mature audiences possibly just aren't into going to movies in February when the weather is cooler and damper (depending on where you are). There's also the psychological angle of going to a movie that's new and not one that's been out for three months and almost ready for the Blu-ray market.

For "Lincoln", those who were dying to see it had already experienced it multiple times several weeks before the Oscars even aired. "Argo" was the same way when it hit #1 back in October, then dropped considerably during the holiday season. All the rest were more or less the same, except for "Les Miserables" which dropped out of the top 20 much sooner than it should have.

But when a movie like "Identity Thief" manages to take the top spot above every Oscar favorite, it ultimately sends a harrowing message of a starvation for comedies. Movie producers should take heed and perhaps hone in on making more comedies with Oscar scope if they ever want a real boost after post-awards season. The trepidation in that is obvious, though, especially when Oscar continually refuses to give the golden guy to many comedies.

For most producers, it's more about winning Oscars than worrying about box office boosts. That's why we'll likely see more dramas of the same ilk next year cleaning up at the Oscars. And after awards season, it's likely we'll see the top five box office again littered with horror movies, lesser family movies, and mediocre comedies that provide laughs for those who desperately want it.

Someday, though, we'll see a perfect hybrid movie hit #1 again after it wins multiple Oscars. Then again, it's easy to argue that "Argo" had just about every one of those elements other than not being designated a family film.

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