N E W Y O R K, March 20, 2001 -- Erin Brockovich is every bit as tough as the Gladiator in public preference for the best picture Oscar, with Traffic stuck in a jam.
Thirty-one percent of Americans favor Brockovich, the true story of a legal assistant's battle against a powerful utility company, for this year's Academy Award, while 28 percent roar for the ancient Roman epic Gladiator. The other nominees eat their dust.
It looks like more people have seen the nominated movies this year — no surprise, given the number of box-office blockbusters on the list. In last year's poll of Oscar preferences about a third had no opinion; this year that's down to two in 10.
While box-office success seems to help, it's not the only factor in public preference for the golden statuette. Gladiator whomped Brockovich at the box office, $186.8 million to $125.5 million as of last week, with Traffic and Tiger at around $100 million each.
Of course the actual winner will be chosen by Academy members, not the American public. Last year the public put The Green Mile on top, comfortably ahead of American Beauty, which ultimately was the Academy's choice.
Men and women disagree over the deserved Oscar winner. More women are pulling for Erin, while more men root for Gladiator. Older Americans either aren't hitting the theaters as much, or aren't loving what they see: They're far more apt to have no opinion.
The Oscars air Sunday night, March 25, on ABC.
This ABCNEWS.com survey was conducted by telephone March 14-18, among a random national sample of 1,024 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation was conducted by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.
Previous ABCNEWS polls can be found in our Poll Vault.