Oscar Box-Office Bump: 'The Revenant' Rides Ahead of 'Star Wars: Force Awakens'

The Revenant NEW still 1 - H 2016
'Revenant,' Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

As a class, the eight best picture nominees have earned $75.8 million on average, up 196 percent from last year's dismal $25.6 million average.

The Revenant is benefiting mightily at the box office after galloping to the front of this year's awards race.

After winning in top categories at the Jan. 10 Golden Globes ceremony, the movie scored 12 Academy Award nominations on Thursday, the most of any film, including mentions for best picture, best director (Alejandro G. Inarritu) and best actor (Leonardo DiCaprio). After the morning announcement, advance ticket sales quickly jumped more than 80 percent day-over-day, according to Fandango.

Films securing a best picture nom enjoy a notable box-office bump between the Globes/Oscar nominations and the Academy Awards ceremony (which this year is on Feb. 28), and The Revenant's could be significant since it is new in the marketplace. The movie opened last weekend to a better-than-expected $39.2 million when expanding nationwide before pulling ahead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Monday, the day following the Globes.

The eight best picture nominees have earned a combined $606.5 million domestically. That's an average of $75.8 million, one of the better showings in recent years and up 196 percent from last year's dismal $25.6 million average at the time of the nominations. Still, the range is wide, with The Martian on one end ($226.6 million) and Room on the other ($5.2 million). And had Star Wars: The Force Awakens been nominated, the average would have shot up to $179 million, a heady number for organizers of the Academy Awards who are looking for a ratings boost.

The next top domestic grosser among best picture nominees after The Martian is Mad Max: Fury Road ($153.6 million), followed by Bridge of Spies ($70.8 million), The Revenant ($54.1 million), The Big Short ($44.6 million), Spotlight ($28.8 million), Brooklyn ($22.8 million) and Room.

Like The Revenant, The Big Short also could enjoy a notable awards bump since it is relatively new at the cineplex (it opened nationwide Dec. 23).

Specialty films Brooklyn, Room and Spotlight are trickier since they have been in theaters longer, even if they were never given wide, saturated releases.

Room has never played in more than 198 theaters since A24 opened the specialty film Oct. 16, but it will up its location count to roughly 300 theaters this weekend.

Launching Nov. 4 in a limited run, Brooklyn played in 908 theaters at its widest point. This weekend, Fox Searchlight will increase Brooklyn's theater count from 285 to 681.

Grossing $28.8 million since bowing Nov. 6 in select theaters, Spotlight also will up its theater count from roughly 360 locations to nearly 1,000 (at its widest, it was available in 1,089 cinemas).

The Revenant stayed No. 1 on Tuesday and Wednesday, passing up Inarritu's Oscar-winner Birdman ($42 million) to mark the best showing of the director's career. This weekend, Fox will increase the movie's theater count from 3,375 to 3,557, including a berth in 54 Imax locations. The frontier epic is expected to cross $30 million to stay ahead of Force Awakens, although the top spot could go to new entry Ride Along 2, which opens Friday.

The Revenant was already going to gross $120 million domestically," said one rival distributor. "Now, it could do as much as $150 million with all these nominations."