Awards season has seen interesting changes in moviegoing behaviour in recent years, particularly as Oscar® nominations find different and more diverse audiences among Best Picture nominees, and film nominations from wider categories than the historical Oscars® selection.
How then can exhibitors leverage those nominated titles for greater box office returns as they seek to return them to the big screen ahead of the Oscars® awards? With insights from Movio’s proprietary Research Console, we have highlighted elements of the audiences and draws that make each of the Best Picture Oscar® nominees unique!
Finding the common link
Of the 2023 Best Picture nominees we analysed, The Banshees of Inisherin, nominated for 9 separate awards at this year’s Oscars®, had the greatest audience overlap with other non-streaming Best picture nominees in its list of comparable titles. The Fabelmans and Tár were its 1st and 2nd-closest comp titles respectively, as well as The Whale with its lead Brendan Fraser nominated for Best Lead Actor. Also high on the list of comp titles were 2022 Best Picture nominees Belfast and Licorice Pizza.
However, The Banshees of Inisherin stands as somewhat of an anomaly in this regard. The Banshees of Inisherin and Tár were the only titles to have multiple other Best Picture nominees in their list of comp titles, which suggests that there is not only a wide variety of audiences among the Best Picture nominees to potentially draw in, but also significant opportunity to capitalise on the prestige of the Oscar® nominations to promote other titles that have not overlapped in audience.
With that in mind, we analysed the audiences and comp titles for the following: The Banshees of Inisherin, Tár, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Fabelmans, and Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.
Key terms to know
Comparable titles (or comp titles) are other movies used for direct comparison to a particular chosen title. Movio’s Similarity Algorithm, seen in action in our Research Console, can instantly identify similar movies to a chosen title using audience overlap, ranking them from greatest audience overlap to the least.
Frequency is a categorisation based on moviegoers’ behaviour over the past six months. Members who have attended less than 2 sessions in that time are considered Infrequent. Those who have attended 2-5 at Occasional, 6-25 are considered Frequent, and those who attended 26 or more sessions are Very Frequent.
Our benchmarks are based on the average moviegoing audience across all movies and genres. Unless stated otherwise, when we mention a benchmark, this means what the average moviegoing audience looks like.
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Fabelmans, Tár, Belfast, The Menu, Licorice Pizza, The Whale, Babylon, The French Dispatch
The Banshees of Inisherin performed well with Frequent* and Very Frequent* moviegoers, and over-indexed with older moviegoers, with more than a third (37%) of the audience aged over 65, and more than half (58%) over 55.
The Banshees of Inisherin also brought a 79% Caucasian audience, 17% above the average moviegoing audience benchmark of 62%, and the title saw a Male-skewed audience at 61% Male attendees vs a benchmark of 54%.
What the Comp titles tell us:
The Banshees of Inisherin has more fellow nominees in its comp titles than other films, suggesting fans of the movie are more interested in traditional prestige films. Older audience crossovers with The Fabelmans and Tár suggest big names like Spielberg and the headline actors of the titles are a major draw.
With such a clear-cut audience thus far, Banshees has plenty of room to expand and draw into younger audiences. Even the brackets of ages 45-54 and 35-44 are 3% and 5% below their benchmarks respectively and could be marketed to in order to widen the audience for the film. With both headlining actors nominated for Oscars®—Colin Farrell for Best Lead Actor, and Brendan Gleeson for Best Supporting Actor—highlighting the star power and vast array of nominations could convince more cinephiles who haven’t yet seen the title to seek it out.
The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Armageddon Time, She Said, Babylon, Bones and All, The Menu, Belfast
Like Banshees, Tár is likewise over-indexing with a Frequent and Very Frequent audience, and has proven to have particularly high single-ticket purchases, with nearly 60% of attendees being single-ticket, triple the benchmark of 20%. Tár similarly over-indexed with older audiences, with moviegoers aged 55+ making up 55% of the audience. A small spike of attendees in the 25-34 age bracket also reached the benchmark for the average film (15%).
Although centred around a strong female lead, Tár attracted a predominantly (60%) Male audience.
What the Comp titles tell us:
The comp titles for Tár show us that the audience prefers high-brow films, and titles that play to a limited audience. All of the films with high audience overlap listed here are prestigious, and most are headlined by at least one highly famous actor in a lead or supporting role.
Our advice is to try targeting a slightly younger audience of the 35-44 bracket, targeting all genders. Audiences that have seen other Cate Blanchett lead films should be a strong addition, as well as people who have seen films in which the lead actress won Best Actress at the Oscars ®, such as Nomadland.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Black Adam, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Avatar (Re-release), Thor: Love and Thunder, The Batman, Jurassic World Dominion, Eternals
Avatar: The Way of Water has quickly risen to be the third-highest grossing film of all time. Unlike most of the other titles nominated for this year’s Best Picture, Avatar: The Way of Water drew a vastly different audience both in terms of demographics and behaviour.
Avatar: The Way of Water drew a well-above average audience of larger groups, with 28% of attendees purchasing in groups of 3-4 against a benchmark of 19%, and 11% in groups of 5+ against a benchmark of 4%.
The film also brought back a surge of moviegoers with 50% of the audience being Infrequent, more than 20% above the benchmark of 29%. Avatar: The Way of Water also saw a diverse range of ethnicities, with above-benchmark attendance from both Latinx and Asian audiences (21% and 8% respectively, against the average audience attendance benchmark of 17% and 6%).
Avatar: The Way of Water's ethnicity demographic breakdown (in blue) as compared to the average of 2023's Best Picture nominees' audience (in black).
What the Comp titles tell us:
Avatar: The Way of Water, as expected, appeals to fans of massive blockbusters and big-screen spectacle, with a number of Marvel titles including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Thor: Love and Thunder. Each of these titles has seen a large Infrequent audience, as they provide big reasons for many less-frequent moviegoers to return to the theatre.
Emphasising Avatar: The Way of Water as the blockbuster and long-awaited sequel it is here is key. There is no film with as much reason right now to be seen on the big screen as Avatar. Highlighting premium and enhanced experiences like 3D could provide additional box office, given moviegoers are still out in droves to see James Cameron’s latest addition to the list of highest grossing films of all time.
A Man Called Otto, The Whale, She Said, Licorice Pizza, Green Book, The Banshees of Inisherin, Babylon, Armageddon Time
Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical title, The Fabelmans was hugely popular among moviegoers aged 55+ (60%), and especially those aged 65+ (who accounted for 48% of the total audience alone), who were perhaps more likely to be drawn to a tale of legacy, and who have grown up with Spielberg’s filmmaking career through the years.
Frequency and Gender demographics were much closer to the average audience than other Best Picture nominees, with less than 1% difference the average Gender makeup, and a 2% increase in Very Frequent moviegoers being the largest deviation from benchmark frequency. 1 and 2-ticket purchases, however, outperformed by 12% over benchmarks.
What the Comp titles tell us:
Comp titles for The Fabelmans appear to follow a trend of star power; including A Man Called Otto with the beloved Tom Hanks, The Whale, which has seen enormous praise for the return of Brendan Fraser, and The Banshees of Inisherin, whose two headlining actors are nominated for Oscars®.
Look towards moviegoers who have seen West Side Story and The Post as a primary target. There is a specific audience for Spielberg titles that are not adventure films, and The Fabelmans appeals directly to them.
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
Nope, Dune (Dune: Part One), The Batman, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Men, The Northman, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and The Green Knight
As the film with the greatest number of Oscar® nominations (11), Everything, Everywhere, All At Once seems to be the space to watch! The A24 title had a much more diverse audience than most of its fellow nominees for Best Picture; Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’s audience demographics included Caucasians at 55%, 7% below what the average movie title attracts, with Latinx and Asian audiences overperforming by 2% and 6% respectively above our average movie benchmarks. Once again this highlights the fact that more diverse representation can influence the audiences of films.
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’s audience is also much younger than other Best Picture nominees, with moviegoers aged 18-34 accounting for 45% of the total audience.
Perhaps most surprising is Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’s gender breakdown. Males accounted for 62% of all attendees, and Females only 38%.
The above graph shows the age and gender breakdown for the audience of Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (in blue) compared to the other Best Picture nominees' demographic breakdown (in black).
What the Comp titles tell us:
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once sees other A24 films among its comp titles, as well as other films with more diverse casts like Nope and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Given Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’s core mother-daughter story, as well as three nominations for actresses with Michelle Yeoh nominated for Best Lead Actress and both Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis nominated for Best Supporting Actress, marketing the film towards more Female audiences with both the story and stand-out actresses offers a clear opportunity, as they are under-represented in the audience currently.
Insights to action
Keeping an eye on audiences is important to ensure you can maximise your marketing communications with segmentation and specific targeting. With the explosive popularity of some of these prestige films, and the clear opportunities for expanding who is coming out to see others, why not take these insights and set up a campaign accordingly to see if you can maximise your box office gains from the Oscars® nominees?
If you are interested in more information about our Research product or for additional insights, please contact us.
*Frequency is based on moviegoers’ six-month session count. Members with < 2 sessions in the past six months are considered Infrequent, 2-5 sessions are considered Occasional, 6-25 sessions are considered Frequent, and 26+ sessions are considered Very Frequent.
OSCAR®, OSCARS®, ACADEMY AWARDS®, ACADEMY AWARD®, A.M.P.A.S.® AND OSCAR NIGHT® are registered trademarks, and the OSCAR statuette is a registered trademark and copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.