After two years in a row in which the Best Picture race was populated with a handful of blockbusters, The Help is the only one of 2011's nine nominees that has so far earned more than $100 million. On average the movies have made just $57.6 million prior to the nominations, which is up on the five-nominee years from 2004-2008 but way off from ten-nominee years 2010 ($119.5 million) and 2009 ($151.5 million).
Aside from The Help, in order of grosses the Best Picture nominees are Moneyball, War Horse, Midnight in Paris, Hugo, The Descendants, The Tree of Life, The Artist and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Out of those nominees, War Horse is the only one with an conceivable chance of reaching $100 million, though at $72.6 million it still has a very long way to go. Hugo ($55.97 million) led all movies with 11 nominations. The Artist ($12.4 million) was close behind with 10 nominations, and was followed by War Horse and Moneyball ($75.5 million) at six nominations each.
Considering they both reached nationwide release on Friday, The Artist and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close have the most to gain from their Best Picture nominations. Fox Searchlight is also set to expand The Descendants in to 900 theaters this weekend, though interested audiences have had plenty of opportunities to see the movie already.
With The Artist and Hugo looking like pretty clear front-runners at this point, it appears that 2011 will be the latest year where Best Picture does not go to one of the top-grossing movies in the category. This happened in 2009 with The Hurt Locker and 2010 with The King's Speech, as they ranked eighth and fourth, respectively, at the time of the awards ceremony.
The Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday, February 26 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California. Billy Crystal will host the show, which is set to air on ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET.