These Films Are the Biggest Oscar Hits and Flops of All Time

'Get Out' | Universal
'Get Out' | Universal

We’re right in the middle of awards season, and with the Oscar nominations now in, we take a look back at the most successful nominees of recent years… as well as the most spectacular flops.

'Black Swan' | © 20th Century Fox

‘Black Swan’ | © 20th Century Fox

Going by a formula that looks at the return on investment (ROI) of each of the Best Picture nominees of the last 10 years, the number crunchers have come up with this comprehensive list.

The surprise number one (and by quite some distance too) is Get Out (2017), one of the favourites for the awards this year. Released less than 12 months ago, Jordan Peele’s social commentary-led horror has raked in a whopping $254.6 million from an initial production spend of just $4.5 million. That makes it not only the most financially rewarding Oscar-nominated film of all time, but also one of the most successful movies ever.

To put that into context, Get Out has made $55.5 for every dollar that was spent in making it. We’re talking Bitcoin-type returns here!

To be fair, the film starring Best Actor nominee Daniel Kaluuya is something of a phenomenon. From very humble beginnings, and no A-list stars to boast of, the movie looked set to be another generic horror film from the trailers. Then audiences started watching it…

'Avatar' | © 20th Century Fox

‘Avatar’ | © 20th Century Fox

Further down the list, you’ll find the all-time box office leader, Avatar (2009) languishing behind the likes of last year’s top duo Moonlight (2016) and La La Land (2016). That’s because even though James Cameron’s blockbusting sci-fi epic made almost $3 billion when it was released in cinemas last decade, it also cost an eye-watering $237 million to make. The total production costs of Avatar are actually more than the costs of all of the other films in the top 15 combined.

Elsewhere, The King’s Speech (2010) is second on the list of most profitable films, although it is only half as profitable as the number one.

Most profitable Oscar-nominated movies of the last 10 years

Movie Worldwide Gross ($m) Budget ($m) ROI ($ profit/$1 budget)
Get Out 254,600,000 4,500,000 55.58
The King’s Speech 414,200,000 15,000,000 26.61
Black Swan 329,300,000 13,000,000 24.33
Slumdog Millionaire 377,900,000 15,000,000 24.19
The Imitation Game 233,500,000 14,000,000 15.68
Moonlight 65,000,000 4,000,000 15.25
La La Land 446,000,000 30,000,000 13.87
Whiplash 48,900,000 3,300,000 13.82
Avatar 2,780,000,000 237,000,000 10.73
Lion 140,300,000 12,000,000 10.69
Beasts of the Southern Wild 21,000,000 1,800,000 10.67
Silver Linings Playbook 236,400,000 21,100,000 10.20
Boyhood 44,500,000 4,000,000 10.13
Dallas Buyers Club 55,200,000 5,000,000 10.04
The Blind Side 309,200,000 29,000,000 9.66
'Hugo' | © Entertainment Film

‘Hugo’ | © Entertainment Film

On the other end of the money-making spectrum are the following movies. It should be noted that Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water and Darkest Hour are all still currently on release or in the process of being released in certain countries. As such, they are certain to make more money in the coming months.

Bearing that in mind, it’s actually Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011) that tops the flops, having made a profit of just three cents for every dollar spent on making it.

Least profitable Oscar-nominated movies of the last 10 years

Movie Worldwide Gross ($m) Budget ($m) ROI ($ profit/$1 budget)
Phantom Thread 6,900,000 35,000,000 -0.80
Hugo 185,700,000 180,000,000 0.03
Frost/Nixon 27,400,000 25,000,000 0.10
The Post 57,200,000 50,000,000 0.14
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 55,200,000 40,000,000 0.38
The Tree of Life 54,300,000 32,000,000 0.70
The Shape of Water 39,700,000 19,500,000 1.04
Her 47,300,000 23,000,000 1.06
Moneyball 110,200,000 50,000,000 1.20
Amour 19,800,000 8,900,000 1.22
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 333,900,000 150,000,000 1.23
Nebraska 27,600,000 12,000,000 1.30
Mad Max: Fury Road 378,800,000 150,000,000 1.53
Darkest Hour 78,600,000 30,000,000 1.62
Fences 64,400,000 24,000,000 1.68

The Oscars 2018 will be held on March 4 in Los Angeles. Join us for all the latest coverage on Culture Trip.