Oscars 2015: 'Birdman' gets high honors, low grosses for a best picture

Director Alejandro G. Inarritu and his film "Birdman" went home with the major Oscars, but compared to previous best-picture winners, the movie hasn't taken in much gold at the box office.

To be sure, "Birdman's" theatrical run is not over. Currently though, it ranks as the second-lowest-grossing movie to receive the top prize in the last 40 years, according to entertainment data firm Rentrak.

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So far, the Fox Searchlight release has sold an estimated $37.7 million in tickets in the U.S. and Canada. Counting all best-picture victors since 1970, the only film with a lower total is 2009's "The Hurt Locker" ($17 million domestically).

Other recent winners also rank low on the list, including 2011's "The Artist" ($44.7 million) and last year's victor, "12 Years a Slave" ($56.7 million). 

However, some of the academy's favorites in the last few years have shown plenty of commercial firepower.

"The King's Speech" (2010) and "Argo" (2012) both easily broke the $100-million mark in the U.S. (Both made significant percentages of their totals after their nominations were announced.)

Even those figures are small compared to other box-office juggernauts that have won, including "Titanic" ($601 million), "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ($377 million) and "Forrest Gump" ($330 million).

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(Rentrak did not calculate ticket price inflation for its rankings, so those grosses are actually larger in today's dollars.) 

With the statues in hand, "Birdman" still has a chance to increase its total.

Fox Searchlight will release the movie in additional theaters this weekend than its current 407, though the distributor has not said how many.

"Birdman" has grossed about 30% of its domestic total since it was nominated for nine awards. It won four Oscars Sunday night, including best picture and best director. 

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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