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Oscar Contenders Jockey for Box Office Dominance

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They may be triumphs of filmmaking, but 2018’s crop of awards season contenders have been a mixed bag when it comes to box office returns.

Sadly, that’s become something of a tradition — as much a staple of the Oscar race as Peggy Siegal luncheons or Meryl Streep. Last year’s best picture nominees had the lowest grosses in six years. This year’s slate of favorites could turn that around as a number of blockbusters seem to have a serious chance at Oscar glory. At the same time, a handful of indie titles have struggled to gain momentum at the specialty box office.

A number of expected champs, including “Vice,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and “Mary Poppins Returns” have yet to hit theaters, though the trio have already picked up plenty of plaudits. “Vice,” Adam McKay’s scathing look at former vice president Dick Cheney, surprised awards sages by taking home a leading six Golden Globe nominations. Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk” looks to find the Oscar-winning filmmaker back in another awards race. Meanwhile “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel that comes 54 years after the original, could be a major hit at a time everyone could use a few spoonfuls of sugar in their lives. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see how those titles shape up.

With a little over two months until the Oscars, Variety crunched the numbers on how this year’s crop of awards hopefuls have performed at multiplexes.

Black Panther

Global box office: $1.3 billion
Rotten Tomato score: 97%
Nominations: Golden Globes (motion picture – drama, original song, original score), American Film Institute Awards (Top 10 Films of the Year), National Board of Review (Top 10 Films), Critics’ Choice (best picture, supporting actor for Michael B. Jordan, acting ensemble, adapted screenplay, cinematography, production design, costume design, hair and makeup, visual effects, action movie, song)

Black Panther” has been in the awards conversation since it debuted in February, though pundits questioned if Ryan Coogler’s take on the superhero genre would get passed just as Patty Jenkin’s “Wonder Woman” was ignored in 2017. Diana Prince, portrayed by Gal Gadot, also boasted a massively successful box office run, but failed to get any love from the Academy. Golden Globe nominations are rarely a sure sign of Oscar chances, but the fact that “Black Panther” was recognized in a major category is a good sign for the Wakanda faithful.

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

Global box office: $596 million
Rotten Tomato score: 62%
Nominations: Golden Globes (motion picture – drama, actor for Rami Malek), Critics’ Choice (actor for Malek, costume design, hair and makeup,

It once seemed like middling reviews and behind-the-scenes turmoil would drown out “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” Oscar dreams. Those issues were overlooked by audiences, who embraced the Queen biopic and propelled ticket sales near $600 million worldwide. One unanimous point of praise has been Rami Malek’s performance as iconic frontman Freddie Mercury, and a less competitive actor race means the “Mr. Robot” star........

© Variety