PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- So now that there's an Academy Awards Best Picture nominee among the five top-grossing films of 2013, can we stop talking about the disparity between Oscar nominees and America's favorite films?
Just because Alfonso Cuaron's visually immersive Gravity took in more than $200 million in the U.S. alone in 2013 doesn't mean Hollywood is just chucking awards at any blockbuster U.S. moviegoers flock to in large numbers. In fact, the chasm between Hollywood's biggest films and those the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates for Best Picture is as vast as the void between a marooned astronaut and the nearest half-functioning space station.
That shouldn't surprise anyone who's watched the Academy Awards in recent years or notes the disparity between their nominees and those at the top of the box office earning list or on the guest list at the People's Choice Awards. Since the Oscars were first handed out in 1929, the most popular movie in the country has won Best Picture just 18 times. In the past 40 years, the only box office champions to break through to the Academy voters were The Godfather (1972), Rocky (1974), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Rain Man (1988), Forrest Gump (1994), Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). That's right, it's been more than a decade since the last time it happened and the gap hasn't closed much since.
Statistician William Briggs checked box office receipts and found that, since 1940, 16 Best Picture winners made 25% or less of the haul of that year's highest-grossing pictures. It's happened six times in the past decade:Shrek 2's $441 million overshadowed Million Dollar Baby's $100 million in 2004, the final Star Wars installment's $380 million dwarfed Crash's $54 million in 2005, Spider-Man 3 trounced No Country For Old Men by $336 million to $74 million, while the record $750 million raked in by 3-D spectacle Avatar in 2009 more than quadrupled The Hurt Locker's $17 million take in its opening weekend alone. In 2011, the $381 million made by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone blew away the scant $44 million made by black-and-white, silent Best Picture winner The Artist. Even the $135 million made in the U.S. by last year's Best Picture winner Argo was nowhere close to that of 2013's top-grossing superhero hit The Avengers, which took in a whopping $623 million stateside.
This year's Best Picture has the potential to be just as overwhelmed in budget and box-office numbers as its predecessors. To give you some idea of the crevasse separating Best Picture nominees drifts from box office reality, we've listed the Top 9 highest-grossing films of 2013 and paired them with a corresponding Best Picture nominee. To illustrate just how broad the spectrum was last year, the top-grossing film's take was 176 times that of the lowest-grossing Best Picture nominee. Here are even more examples of the growing divide between moviegoing Americans: