‘The Hurt Locker:’ A Critically-Hailed, Best Picture-Winning Box Office Flop

‘The Hurt Locker:’ A Critically-Hailed, Best Picture-Winning Box Office Flop

Along with her Iraq Battle-set thriller The Harm Locker, Kathryn Bigelow iconically turned the primary feminine filmmaker to obtain the Oscars for Greatest Director and Greatest Image on the Academy Awards. Universally hailed by critics, The Harm Locker was lauded for its immersive storytelling and tension-building environment, impressing audiences throughout an period when contemporary-set warfare dramas sometimes obtained a cold response because the battle in Iraq continued properly into 2011. On the street to its history-making victories on the Academy Awards, The Hurt Locker was featured on numerous lists of the 12 months’s greatest movies at many main information and tradition publications across the globe, together with important nods from essentially the most prestigious and influential award-voting our bodies. Nevertheless, outdoors its vital acclaim, The Harm Locker was removed from a serious box-office success, incomes lower than $50 million worldwide in opposition to a manufacturing funds of $15 million, putting it among the many lowest-grossing Greatest Image winners of all time.

Set in the course of the early years of the Iraq Battle, The Harm Locker stars a fresh-faced Jeremy Renner as Sergeant William James, the chief of a U.S. bomb disposal staff working in Baghdad. As James’ days dwindle earlier than receiving a brand new project, he and his teammates should grapple with the extreme stress of their army place and place throughout the bigger world away from the battle. Nail-bitingly suspenseful and expertly crafted by Bigelow and her collaborators, The Hurt Locker steers away from the standard expectations of expansive warfare epics to create a visceral and enveloping warfare movie pertinent to the time of its 2009 launch. Let’s look at among the contradicting elements that made The Harm Locker concurrently a box-office disappointment and a a number of Oscar winner:

‘The Harm Locker’s Unconventional Theatrical Launch
The Harm Locker made its world premiere in competitors on the Venice Movie Competition in 2008, practically 18 months earlier than the movie’s historic Academy Award wins. Whereas Venice is usually used as a launch pad for award season campaigns (La La Land, The Form of Water, Roma), The Harm Locker had but to safe a North American distributor by the tip of the competition. Nevertheless, after the film’s North American premiere on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition just a few weeks later, it was lastly bought for North American distribution for a modest $1.5 million by Summit Leisure, an indie-focused manufacturing firm and distributor. Summit Leisure knew it might be a bet for audiences, particularly since different movies of the time centered across the Iraq Battle had been poorly obtained total.

Skipping the usual fall or winter launch technique of many Oscar hopefuls, The Harm Locker opened in restricted launch in america on June 26, 2009. That weekend enjoying in 4 theaters, the film made $145,352, a sometimes excessive per-screen-average for the occasions. But because the movie’s theatrical tour expanded main as much as the 2010 Academy Awards, it peaked domestically at simply over $17 million in earnings and fewer than $50 million globally. Furthermore, it was on lower than 600 screens at its top, that means The Harm Locker by no means even reached a large theatrical launch. In dramatic distinction, James Cameron’s Avatar, one other main Oscar contender launched in the identical 12 months, remodeled $77 million within the U.S. throughout its opening weekend alone and was in practically 3,500 theaters nationwide. Including to the fascinating chronicle of The Harm Locker, the film stays one of many lowest-grossing Greatest Image winners of all time, excluding the pandemic-affected years of 2021 and 2022.

‘The Harm Locker’s Highway To Oscar Victory
Though first launched to audiences in 2008, The Harm Locker was not eligible for Academy Awards competition the next 12 months since guidelines require a movie to be publicly screened inside that calendar 12 months, that means the movie needed to maintain onto its Oscars ambitions till 2010. This divergence from the standard fall launch makes The Harm Locker stand out from expectations of a profitable Oscar marketing campaign, with equally unconventional campaigns represented by means of latest Greatest Image winners like CODA. No matter its lagging theatrical launch and lukewarm box-office success, The Harm Locker was wholly championed by movie critics, who praised the film’s frenetic pressure and absorbingly intimate spin on the warfare thriller. From the film’s dynamic craft to Bigelow’s laser-focused course to Renner’s breakthrough efficiency, critics celebrated The Harm Locker and helped increase its profile as that 12 months’s awards season unfolded. By the tip of 2009, the film discovered its manner onto nearly each “greatest movies of the 12 months” listing from organizations and publications, together with the American Movie Institute, the New York Instances, Roger Ebert, and Sight & Sound.

As 2010 started and awards season was in full swing, The Harm Locker started to realize super momentum because the 82nd Academy Awards grew nearer. Whereas the Hollywood International Press voters for the Golden Globes selected Avatar because the winner for Greatest Movement Image, Drama, and Bigelow’s ex-husband James Cameron for Greatest Director, The Harm Locker was notably nominated in each classes, together with Greatest Screenplay. A turning level for the movie got here on the British Academy of Movie and Tv Awards, the place The Harm Locker gained six of the most important prizes of the night, together with Greatest Image, Director, Modifying, and Authentic Screenplay. Within the following weeks, it was rewarded the highest prizes on the Director’s Guild and Author’s Guild of America Awards, giving the film a considerable last push to the Oscars. Heading into the Academy Awards ceremony, The Harm Locker had a formidable 9 nominations, tying with Avatar for the best variety of the night. By the evening’s conclusion, The movie had cleaned up with an unimaginable six wins — Greatest Sound Modifying, Greatest Sound Mixing, Greatest Movie Modifying, Greatest Authentic Screenplay, Greatest Director, and naturally, Greatest Image.

Not solely was The Harm Locker ambitiously designed and assuredly composed, but it surely additionally broke typical expectations of what an Oscar-winning movie might be. Regardless of its downfalls on the field workplace, the scrappy small-scale unbiased manufacturing of the film proved to be some of the critically celebrated of its time, particularly standing out in a 12 months when Avatar was pushing the boundaries of expertise, scale, and monetary success in filmmaking. Furthermore, Bigelow’s fully deserved victories on the Oscars have been important moments within the historical past of cinema, an artwork and business the place feminine voices are nonetheless underrepresented, even over a decade since her unprecedented achievements. Since The Harm Locker’s Oscar sweep, just one feminine director has repeated the triumphs for Greatest Director and Greatest Image, Chloé Zhao, for Nomadland in 2021. Sian Header additionally contributed to girls within the historical past of the Academy Awards final 12 months for her Greatest Image win with CODA, that means that solely three girls have gained the most important prize of the Oscars within the practically 83 years of the ceremony’s historical past

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