Some of the endless awards speculation was put to rest this morning when Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announced the 2012 Academy Award Nominations. While there were no massive blockbusters nominated for Best Picture, four of the nine titles have already grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office. Overall, the average gross so far for the Best Picture nominees is $68.4 million, which is above last year ($57.6 million) but way below 2009 ($151.5 million) and 2010 ($119.5 million).
It's worth noting that the nominations were announced a full 14 days early this year, which kept the grosses lower on some late-year movies. Lincoln is not only the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee ($145 million and counting), it is also the one with the most nominations (12). The last time that happened was in 2008, when The Curious Case of Benjamin Button led all nominees in box office ($104.4 million) and nominations (13). Since expanding nationwide on November 16, Lincoln has held incredibly well throughout the season, and could earn another $20 million or so before the end of its run.
Based on their release patterns, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty and Amour have the most to gain at the box office from their nominations.
Zero Dark Thirty has had a phenomenal run in very limited release so far, and the combination of awards recognition and torture-related controversy should result in at least $20 million when it expands in to around 2,400 locations this weekend.
Silver Linings Playbook is technically playing nationwide right now (745 theaters), but The Weinstein Company is set to give it a major theater push next weekend.
Meanwhile, the expansion plan for Amour isn't currently available, though Sony Pictures Classics has plenty of experience with gradual roll-outs and Amour should ultimately be able to top Cache (Hidden) ($3.65 million) to become writer-director Michael Haneke's highest-grossing movie.
The Academy Awards will be handed out on Sunday, February 24 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California. Seth MacFarlane, writer/director/star of Ted, will host the show, which is set to air on ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET.