Oscar Winning Movies That Didn’t Turn a Profit

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Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

20. Blue Sky (1994)
> Award: Best Actress in a Leading Role: Jessica Lange
> Estimated production budget: $16 million
> Domestic box office gross: $3.4 million

“Blue Sky” was withheld from release by its studio until a few years after director Tony Richardson’s death. Lead actress Jessica Lange, therefore, didn’t receive her Best Actress award until 1995.

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

19. Phantom Thread (2017)
> Award: Best Achievement in Costume Design
> Estimated production budget: $35 million
> Domestic box office gross: $21.0 million

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” tells the story of a dressmaker in 1950s London. This subject matter was perhaps not intriguing enough for U.S. audiences.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

18. Restoration (1995)
> Award: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; Best Costume Design
> Estimated production budget: $19 million
> Domestic box office gross: $4.1 million

Despite its two Academy Award wins, the 1995 historical drama “Restoration” failed to have a major impact among audiences. The two and a half-hour movie grossed just over $4 million domestically.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

17. The Abyss (1989)
> Award: Best Effects, Visual Effects
> Estimated production budget: $70 million
> Domestic box office gross: $54.5 million

Director James Cameron proved his cinematic eye for visuals long before “Avatar,” when his 1989 “The Abyss” took home the award for Best Effects. He would have better financial success, however, with later releases such as “Titanic.”

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

16. The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
> Award: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
> Estimated production budget: $55 million
> Domestic box office gross: $38.6 million

“The Ghost and the Darkness” was not a huge hit among critics, receiving positive reviews from just over half of critics on Rotten Tomatoes. No one can blame supervising sound editor Bruce Stambler, who won the award for his sound effects editing on the film.