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How Many Box Office Hits Will the Oscars Allow Into the Best Picture Lineup?

A slew of consumer-friendly Oscar contenders are vying for nominations in the coveted best picture category — and that could be just what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs to boost ratings and keep ABC happy.

Analysts have found correlations between box office success and viewership over the years, but the broadcast television ratings continue to dwindle. Despite the TV Academy nominating popular series such as “Euphoria” with Zendaya and Netflix’s “Squid Game,” for example, Emmy ratings still dropped from last year. Last year’s best picture trophy went to “CODA,” an Apple streaming release that brought in $1.6 million at the box office, and while the ceremony’s ratings increased from the year prior, it was still the second lowest overall.

As it stands, Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” is the year’s biggest moneymaker and sitting comfortably in the fifth spot of the highest-grossing domestic films of all time, and part of the early awards conversation. Two tentpole sequels are waiting in the wings – Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and 20th Century Studios’ “Avatar: The Way of Water,” both of which had predecessors that were nominated for best picture.

With Oscar voters having 10 available slots to list their favorite films on their ballots, they’ve proven to be open to more consumer-facing titles such as “The Blind Side” (2009) and last year’s “Dune,” which walked away with six statuettes.

With many of the films dividing fall festival attendees aside from Universal’s “The Fabelmans,” will industry voters choose films they really love, or will they get behind “more respected” auteurs’ creative vision despite middling reviews?

More importantly, how many populist titles will AMPAS voters vote for in the 10 available best picture slots? Aside from “Maverick,” pundits are relying mostly on hopes and prayers that the Academy-at-large will recognize A24’s first $100 million movie, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” With star Michelle Yeoh front-running in best actress and possibly other categories, like original screenplay and editing, there should be room for the Daniels’ multi-verse dramedy.

Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” blazed into the summer after a strong Cannes debut, making a leading man out of former Nickelodeon star Austin Butler, whose transformation into the famed musician was a tour-de-force. With over $150 million domestically, Warner Bros. is optimistic it can mimic a campaign similar to “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018), which netted four Oscars including best actor for Rami Malek as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury.

Getting off to a brawny start in its opening weekend, Sony Pictures’ “The Woman King” ushers powerful Black women warriors to the race with director Gina Prince-Bythewood angling to become the first Black woman ever nominated and an impeccable ensemble including Oscar-winner Viola Davis. Is there room for them in the Academy’s kingdom?

Read: the latest predictions, visit Variety’s Oscars Hub.

“Knives Out” sequel “Glass Onion,” which Netflix purchased the rights to for an astounding $450 million, was a smash at its premiere in Toronto, and second runner-up for the People’s Choice Award behind “Women Talking” and winner “The Fabelmans.” With its all-star cast including Daniel Craig returning as the southern detective Benoit Blanc, and stand-out turns from superstar Janelle Monáe, the Rian Johnson riot has become the streaming giant’s best shot at best picture recognition; Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Bardo,” now getting a 22-minute shorter cut for its AFI bow, stuttered early in its festival run. We’ll have to wait and see if it can bounce back with the new version.

In the expanded best picture era since 2009, the highest-grossing film of the year has been nominated for the Academy’s top category four of the last 13 years – “Avatar” (2009), “Toy Story 3” (2010), “American Sniper” (2014) and “Black Panther” (2018). Can we see the fifth this season?

Updated Oscar predictions are on the individual category pages. Read them via the links below.

BEST PICTURE | DIRECTOR | ACTOR | ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING | SOUND | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | INTERNATIONAL FEATURE | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT

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