Best Picture Oscar Nominees that Flopped at the Box Office

PHOTO: From left to right; Producer Thomas Langmann, Jean Dujardin, director Michel Hazanavicius, James Cromwell, and actresses Missi Pyl, Penelope Ann Miller, Bérénice Bejo.
Joel Ryan/AP Photo

While a nomination or win in the Best Picture category at the 2013 Academy Awards is a feather to put in any studio's hat, not all the films reap financial rewards.

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The timing of a film's release relative to the Academy Awards show can play a large role in whether Oscar hype contributes to ticket sales. The Oscar winner in 2010 for Best Picture, "The Hurt Locker", is the perfect example, said Matt Patches, movies editor with the newly re-designed entertainment site,

"The Hurt Locker" was released in the U.S. in March 2009, so it had stopped showing in most theaters well before the Oscar nominees were announced in early 2010. It grossed about $15.7 million in U.S. theaters with a budget of about $15 million.

Here are 11 other films that won critical acclaim, at least from the Academy, but failed or struggled at the box office.


PHOTO: Jean Dujardin
Courtesy The Weinstein Company
The Artist

A black-and-white film about a silent movie star didn't necessarily bring audiences in droves, but "The Artist" did win Best Picture at the 2012 Academy Awards. The film did turn a profit and made about $40 million in total revenue at the box office.

Matt Patches of said he wouldn't call the movie a "flop," because it was a small film made by the Weinstein brothers, who, despite their fame, run a boutique company.

"They go after 'artier' movies -- things we consider Oscar fare," he said.


PHOTO: This undated film still shows Ken Watanabe (C) and Hirsohi Watanabe (R) playing a scene of the movie "Letters From Iwo Jima".
AFP/Getty Images
Letters from Iwo Jima

Clint Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima" didn't win the 2007 Oscar for Best Picture, nor was it a huge success at the box office, grossing more than $13 million as of April 2007 after its release that February.

"There was a risk in making a film that showed the Japanese side of the war," Patches said. Eastwood, as a Hollywood legend, was "probably the only guy who could get away with it."


PHOTO: Daniel Craig, Steven Spielberg and Eric Bana during Los Angeles Private Screening of Universal's "Munich" - Arrivals at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California.
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Patches admitted that it's difficult to say Steven Spielberg and "flop" in the same sentence.

"Yes, it was probably one of his least successful movies, financially, but one of his best films because it takes a risk," Patches said.

"Munich" took a deep look at the aftermath of the assassination of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

The film's budget was an estimated $75 million and it grossed about $47.4 million.

"He's the only one who can spend $75 million on a story like this," Patches said of Spielberg. "It's stylish, dark, murky, questions morality and cost almost $80 million."

Patches said it was "a real artistic achievement for Spielberg."

"This is not 'Jurassic Park' or 'from the director of "Oz."' It's a real outside charge for him," he said.


PHOTO: Al Pacino Stars As "60 Minutes" Producer Lowell Bergman In Touchstone Drama "The Insider".
Getty Images
The Insider

Depicting the real life story of a tobacco whistleblower, played by Russell Crowe, "The Insider" grossed about $29 million at the box office.

"It had too much competition going against it," Patches said of why it was not a box office hit. "It was too serious."

However, the film had seven Oscar nominations in 2000, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe.


PHOTO: Actor Nick Nolte(R), who has a role in the film "The Thin Red Line," arrives to the premiere of the movie with television actress Vicky Lewis(L) 22 December in Beverly Hills. The film also stars Sean Penn, who did not attend the premiere.
Gerard Burkhart/AFP/Getty Images
The Thin Red Line

"In the end, sometimes the movie industry is about funding a film they want to see and, to me, 'Thin Red Line' is that movie," Patches said about the war film.

Patches said it "lived in shadow of 'Saving Private Ryan,'" but it was not an artistic flop.


PHOTO: Geoffrey Rush holds his award for Best Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role for the film "Shine" backstage at the 69th Annual Academy Awards ceremony March 24, 1997 in Los Angeles, CA.
Russell Einhorn/Getty Images

Produced by an independent Australian film production company, "Shine" was one of Geoffrey Rush's opportunities to, well, shine.

Based on the true story of an eccentric Australian pianist, it made more than $35 million in the U.S. with a budget of about $5.5 million.

"Geoffrey Rush probably could only do that role in a movie the studios would never back, so he had to make 'Shine' outside the system," Patches said.


PHOTO: Director Mike Leigh (L) and actress Brenda Blethyn pose as they arrive for the Academy Awards nominee luncheon 11 March in Beverly Hills, California where Leigh is nominated for best director and Blethyn for best actress, both for the film "Secrets
Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images
Secrets and Lies

Another independent film, "Secrets and Lies," a drama about a family with a lot to hide, had a lot to overcome in reaching American audiences.

It had a small budget of $4.5 million and made about $13 million in the U.S.

Though independent films are more widely accepted and distributed today, they were diamonds in the rough back in the mid-'90s.

"There's a demand to make films outside the studio system and then bring them in," Patches said. "It's how they bring in new talent for things they will then pony up for."


PHOTO: Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a scene from the film 'The Shawshank Redemption'.
Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images
The Shawshank Redemption

While it was in theaters, "The Shawshank Redemption" earned more than $28 million in revenue, just barely making a profit after its estimated production costs of $25 million.

"'Shawshank' is a perfect example. It's a movie that people love," Patches said. "Not enough people saw it when it was playing in theaters."

"It might have been [a flop] at release and when it made a play for Best Picture, but it's not a flop anymore," Patches said of the fondly remembered film.


PHOTO: Emma Thompson, Chrisopher Reeve and Dana Reeve during New York Screening of "The Remains of the Day" at Paris Theater in New York City.
Ron Galella/WireImage
The Remains of the Day

With Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, Patches said, "Remains of the Day" was "your typical Oscar movie."

Merchant Ivory Productions, which produced the film, "has gone down in film history as stuffy, British, typical Oscar bait."

However, Patches said, the film needed " a seal of approval" for audiences to give it a chance. The film grossed about $23 million in the U.S. with an estimated budget of about $11.5 million.


PHOTO: Actor Daniel Day-Lewis and actor Pete Postlethwaite attend the "In the Name of the Father" New York City Premiere on December 3, 1993 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty Images
In the Name of the Father

Just before Daniel Day-Lewis had the star power to draw any audience in, "In the Name of the Father" was tough to sell to American audiences.

"It's a history Americans are not familiar with," Patches said of the plot, which involves an IRA bombing.

However, given Day-Lewis' success today, the film "would be huge," Patches said.

"We would see Daniel-Day Lewis give the performance of the year," he said.

The actor was nominated, but he didn't win.


PHOTO: Irish actor Stephen Rea (L), nominee for Best Actor for his performance in "The Crying Game," arrives 29 March at the 65th Annual Academy Awards ceremony with British co-star Miranda Richardson.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
The Crying Game

Dramatic thriller "The Crying Game" made only $4.3 million initially, but its U.S. box office revenue grew to $43 million in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, Reuters noted.

Eventually, it grossed more than $62 million at the U.S. box office.

"The Crying Game" was another example of a film that mainstream audiences needed a "stamp of approval" from the Academy.

"That movie is dangerous enough," Patches said of the film's twists and turns, including its sexuality. "Unless it won an award and won Oscar buzz, people may be turned away by it."

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