Marvel Studios film “Black Panther” made Oscars history on Tuesday, as it bags the first best picture nomination for a superhero movie, as crowd-pleasing blockbusters muscled into a contest recently dominated by art-house fare.
The inclusion of popular films contrasted with the past few years when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences favored independent dramas with small audiences and snubbed commercial successes such as “Wonder Woman.”
Other box-office hits among the eight nominees for the movie industry’s top prize included musical remake “A Star is Born” and rock biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The academy attempted to address the issue in August by proposing a new popular film category. But the idea was quickly scrapped after criticism that it would create a two-tier system of popular and less mainstream films.
Tuesday’s nominations showed popular films had broken into the best picture race. The field reflected “the perfect intersection of art and commerce,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at measurement firm Comscore.
“The academy is clearly honouring blockbuster films this year,” he said, “and is acknowledging their contributions to the art of film making and thus recognizing the level of talent involved.”
Having widely seen films in the running could help boost ratings for the Feb. 24 Oscars telecast on Walt Disney Co’s ABC. The audience for last year’s show dropped to an all-time low, and critics said a crop of little-seen nominees likely were a factor.
“Black Panther” was 2018’s top-grossing movie in the United States and Canada, and second-highest worldwide, with $1.3 billion in ticket sales. Released by Disney-owned Marvel, it was the first superhero film to feature a predominantly black cast.
The movie was hailed for bringing African pride and beauty to a big-screen adventure. It received seven nominations in total.
Rivals include 21st Century Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” about late Queen singer Freddie Mercury, which has rung up $798 million at global box offices. “A Star is Born” from AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros, also a contender, has grossed $409 million.
The nominees also include Fox’s British period comedy “The Favorite,” which has grossed $43 million, and political satire “Vice” with $39.5 million. For a graphic on international ticket sales for best picture nominees, see: tmsnrt.rs/2RUnnhF
Nominees typically see a boost in tickets sales after the Oscar nominations are announced.
It is unknown how many people have seen another best picture nominee, Netflix Inc’s Spanish-language drama “Roma.” Netflix has not released ticket sales data from theaters or disclosed how many people have watched “Roma” on the streaming service.