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Oscar Box Office Fizzle

Feb. 17 2009, Published 11:16 a.m. ET

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Typically, when the Oscar nominees for Best Picture are announced, those flicks get a boost at the box office.

Not this year.

Slumdog Millionaire has continued slow-and-steady to its current $88.1 million gross, Brad Pitt's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is petering out at $122.5 million, the pricey Frost/Nixon is languishing with $16.5 million, Milk is doing so-so with $26.7 million, and The Reader is looking at a solid (for its low-cost) $19.4 million to date.

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Last year at this time, nominees There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Atonement and especially Juno had taken in some $50 million more cumulatively at the box office.

Industry analysts attribute this to 3 factors: a lame economy, the quick release of films to home video, and the fact that some of these are downers that most people don't want to see.

For which Paul Blart: Mall Cop can be very, very grateful.

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