Useless trivia alert
At some showing in some multiplex in some mall somewhere round about right now Slumdog Millionaire will beat Benjamin Button's box office tally, which makes it the top grossing Best Picture nominee from 2008 (as well as the winner). This will put Slumdog at #19 for biggest box office of 2008, just behind Hathaway and Carrel's Get Smart antics and Jolie and McAvoy's Wanted moves, and #2 for most successful drama behind Gran Torino. The other eighteen films, as per usual, are special effects driven, franchise entries, animated or comedic... the four things the public likes best. If you adjust for profitability Slumdog is much higher up, given a production budget that's miniscule in comparison to most top 20 finishers (it's but a 10th the size of Button's). Though perhaps they burned the extra profits away on that relentless Oscar campaign.
Statistically the Best Picture winner is usually the second highest grosser in its pack of nominees when all the pennies are counted. If it's not the runner up, it's #1. Only twice in the past 25 years has this pattern not held: The Last Emperor was very nearly the least successful of the '87 nominees and '99's American Beauty finished behind both the blockbuster The Sixth Sense and the Tom Hanks hit The Green Mile.
Meanwhile The Reader continues to disprove the notion that only a Best Picture win means anything at the box office. Winslet's win and its misleading ad campaign (they're also calling it a "thriller". Oy) seem to be powering The Reader's take. It will likely move past Milk (now on DVD) soon to become the third most successful BP nominee. Strangely, Slumdog seems to be cutting its box office off at the knees. It's still playing strong in the top ten nationwide and yet they're releasing it to DVD in three weeks. I guess everyone has finally accepted the sad notion that theatrical is only a commercial for DVD. Commercials get fast forwarded. The Reader comes to DVD in April. Benjamin Button or maybe Frost/Nixon (the least popular nominee) will hold out the longest before making the leap for home viewing.