Winning an Academy Award is one of the most prestigious achievements in filmmaking. And while Oscar-winning movies are often exceedingly popular among moviegoers, financial success is not a condition the Academy requires. Some movies that embody the level of excellence sought by the Academy fail to score big at the box office.
Generally, low-grossing, but not necessarily low-budget, films win less prominent awards than Best Picture. Instead, they excel in one specific area and win an award for Best Writing, Best Music, or Best Actress in a Supporting Role. While winning an Oscar in one of these categories is no small feat, it does not necessarily encourage ticket sales in the way a Best Picture win – or even nomination – does.
24/7 Wall St. has identified 25 Oscar-winning movies that didn’t turn a profit. These films cost more to produce than they earned in the domestic market.
Three of the Oscar-winning movies that didn’t turn a profit in the U.S. and Canada were some of the most expensive movies ever made that cost $150 million to make and were recognized by the Academy for their cinematography. The 2007 movie “The Golden Compass” had a production budget of $180 million and won the award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. These films suggest that while large sums of money can be used to create an extraordinary visual experience, this does not necessarily translate into a movie with wide appeal or a well-rounded cinematic experience.
To determine the Oscar-winning movies that didn’t turn a profit, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed estimated production budgets and domestic box office earnings for every film that has won an Academy Award in any category – including those awarded to one specific member of a film’s cast or crew – since 1929. This data was provided by the Internet Movie Database. Movies for which budget or box office data were not available were excluded from consideration.