Most Profitable Movies That Won an Oscar for Best Picture

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The 2023 Oscar nominations for Best Picture are in, and the two highest grossing films of 2022 – “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” – are among the finalists. “Top Gun” grossed over $1.48 billion worldwide, while “Avatar” has exceeded $2 billion. (These are the highest grossing movies of all time.)

While a film’s box office success isn’t a reliable indicator of award nominations (or vice versa), many blockbusters have been Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards. To determine the most profitable movies that won Best Picture, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on production budget and box office from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture were ranked based on the return on investment ratio between production budget and worldwide box office. Because ranking is based on return on investment, it is not adjusted for inflation. Director and cast information is from IMDb.

The box office return per dollar runs from $12 to $43 for most of the films here, but the top two saw much higher returns – $100 for “Gone With the Wind” and $225 for “Rocky,” made for a budget of only $1 million, but the highest grossing film of 1976.

The most profitable Best Picture winners include both classics and current films of various genres, from the 1939 historical epic “Gone With the Wind” to the 2019 thriller “Parasite.” The list includes war movies, dramas, thrillers, crime films, comedies, and even a hit musical – though one that didn’t make our ranking of the best musicals of all time.

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