Twentieth Century Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos said he had a “great morning” Thursday with the arrival of 26 Oscar nominations for movies distributed by his studio. That nearly doubled the haul of the next-closest competitor, Disney, with 14 nominations. Gianopulos credited the “extraordinary work of our filmmakers, the strength of our partners and the diversity of our slate.”
Fox’s total includes a leading 12 nominations for “The Revenant,” seven for “The Martian,” six for “Bridge of Spies” (A Fox 2000 co-production) and one for “Joy.” The nice haul does not even include a total of four nominations that went to two other films, “Brooklyn” and “Youth,” from specialty label and distributor Fox Searchlight.
If there was any dark lining on Fox’s silver Oscar cloud on nomination day, it was that Ridley Scott did not receive recognition for “The Martian,” although the sci-fi epic was one of eight films nominated for best picture. Gianopulos described the studio as “crushed” by the absence of a Scott directing nomination, noting that a similar slight occurred in 2001 when Scott received a nomination for his leadership on “Gladiator” but lost the Oscar to “Traffic” helmer Steven Soderbergh.
“These movies don’t direct themselves,” said Gianopulos. “It takes someone with his vision and the quality of his team and the quality of the cast he assembled. None of that happens by accident. He is a brilliant filmmaker with great vision and it’s difficult to see him overlooked.”
Mostly, though, Gianopolus said he was feeling good about a year in which Fox’s nominated films spanned an array of styles and stories, including offerings that weren’t obvious box office winners, like “The Revenant,” a story of unrelenting suffering and endurance by a 19th century frontiersman. The film cost an estimated $135 million to make and had earned just $78 million worldwide as of Oscar nomination day — hoping for an uptick following the film Academy love.
New Regency founder and Chairman Arnon Milchan also reveled in nominations for “The Revenant.” It marked the third year in a row his company’s films had a shot at best picture. And the last two proved to be winners, first for “Twelve Years a Slave” and, last year, for “Birdman,” also directed by “The Revenant” helmer Alejandro G. Inarritu.
“At the end of the day, we love making movies,” he said in a statement. “We love the artistry and the challenges and everything that comes in between. It is recognition like this that enables us to continue making films like ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Big Short.'” The Big Short was a Paramount release.
New Regency’s chief executive, Brad Weston, recognized the nominations for Leonardo DiCaprio for, best actor and Tom Hardy, for best supporting actor, along with the second straight directorial nom for Inarritu. “I have always believed in Alejandro’s vision for this film,” Weston said, “and it has been incredibly gratifying to see that vision realized.”
“The Revenant,” Gianopolus said, “is a testament to [producer] New Regency for taking that leap of faith.” He added: “We have been proud to be associated with it and to share in that,” along with the recognition for all the other Fox-distributed films. He noted that, but for the absence of a best animated feature nomination for “The Peanuts Movie,” for 20th Century Fox Animation, there would have been nods to every Fox film division.
“It’s a great, great moment and it doesn’t come without financial rewards as well,” Gianopolus said. The studio finished fourth in domestic box office in 2015, behind Universal, Disney and Warner Brothers and ahead of Sony and Paramount.