Take that, streamers. Theatrical releases are back. (Well, as top Award Season contenders, anyway.)
For the ten nominees in their 34th annual awards, The Producers Guild of America (who honor film producers with their guild’s version of Best Picture) nominated nine movies that debuted as theatrical exclusive feature films in 2022. By contrast just a year ago, five of the ten nominated pictures were streaming-exclusive titles and two more (Dune and King Richard) were hybrid releases that launched day-and-date in multiplexes and on HBO Max.
This year, the lone streaming nomination went to Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and even that had an exclusive week-long pre-streaming nationwide debut over Thanksgiving). Last year, Netflix’s The Power of the Dog lost both the PGA and the Academy Award to CODA from AppleTV+.
Leading the way for The Return of the Theatricals were the two biggest from 2022, Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick. Producer / Actor Tom Cruise‘s sequel was the biggest earner domestically with $719 million (sixth all-time) while James Cameron‘s Avatar sequel has become the year’s biggest global hit with $1.92 billion and counting (currently sixth all-time and rising, as it’s likely to become only the sixth movie ever — and third by Cameron — to cross the $2 billion mark).
Other popular hits like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Elvis made the list, as did critical favorites The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Fabelmans, TÁR, and The Whale.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of that list is The Whale, Darren Aronofsky‘s film starring Brendan Fraser as a morbidly obese man who faces a life crisis as he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter. It knocked out other contenders such as Babylon, Women Talking, The Woman King, and international epics RRR (India) and All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany), both of which served as two of the most impressive productions of the year.
Though a bit polarizing with critics and Film Twitter, The Whale has proven to be a breakout indie hit with $11 million so far since its mid-December release. It’s pacing to soon pass the disappointing box office numbers of more high profile Oscar hopefuls from major directors like Steven Spielberg‘s The Fabelmans ($14.3M) and Damien Chazelle‘s lavish Babylon ($14.8M) and has shot past other universally praised contenders like TÁR ($5.8M) and The Banshees of Inisherin ($9.2M)).
The sweet spot nominee appears to be Everything Everywhere All At Once, a breakout indie hit that has both critical cred and box office success, capping out at an impressive $70M domestic and $103M worldwide (the first title to do so for respected indie distributor A24).
In terms of being an Oscar harbinger, 14 of the last 20 Producers Guild winners went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, including 4 of the last 5.
One last note of Oscar-related interest: in the Documentary category, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed — which has won virtually every major critics group award — did not make the PGA’s list of seven doc nominees.
Winners will be announced during the Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, February 25, 2023, a little more than two weeks before the Academy Awards are handed out on Sunday, March 12.
Producers Guild of America
Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
- Avatar: The Way of Water
- The Banshees of Inisherin
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- Everything Everywhere All At Once
- The Fabelmans
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
- Top Gun: Maverick
- The Whale
Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
- Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
- Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
- Minions: The Rise of Gru
- Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
- Turning Red
Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Pictures
- All That Breathes
- Fire of Love
- Nothing Compares
- The Territory
2023 PGA Honorees
- Milestone Award (recognizing an individual or team who has made historic contributions to the entertainment industry):
Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy
- David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures:
- Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television:
- Stanley Kramer Award (an achievement or contribution that illuminates and raises public awareness of important social issues): Till
Click on links below for other major Critics Group Awards and Guild Nominees that have been announced so far for the 2022 / 23 season:
The 95th Academy Award Nominations
Directors Guild of America Nominees
Screen Actors Guild Nominees
Golden Globe Winners
Chicago Film Critics Association
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
American Film Institute Top 10 Films of 2022
National Board of Review
New York Film Critics Circle