‘Downton Abbey’ box office makes history for Focus Features, but will it give the film an Oscar boost?

The “Downton Abbey” movie opened on September 20, but even though it’s only been three years since the TV show went off the air, demand for a comeback turned out to be pretty high. The film ended its opening weekend with $31 million at the domestic box office, which makes it the biggest opening ever for Focus Features. Money makes the world go round, but will it make “Downton” a bigger player at the Oscars?

The previous record for Focus Features was the $22.7 million earned by “Insidious Chapter 3” during its opening weekend in 2015. And not only did “Downton” break that record by a substantial margin, it has already also accumulated another $30 million from overseas markets, bringing its worldwide total to $61 million. On top of that, the film received a grade-A CinemaScore from opening night audiences, so word of mouth might be reasonably strong in the coming weeks.

The Oscars are ostensibly all about the quality of the art, but it’s clear that success sells too. Previous surprise blockbusters have achieved Oscars success in spite of mixed reviews (“The Blind Side,” “Bohemian Rhapsody“) or subject matter that isn’t usually in the academy’s comfort zone (“The Sixth Sense,” “Get Out”). The reviews for “Downton” were generally positive, if not overwhelmingly so. Does that mean the film could do just as well at the Oscars as it did at the Emmys?

That actually might be the show’s biggest hurdle. If the motion picture academy sees “Downton” as just a continuation of a TV show, they might be reluctant to reward it, even with a pedigree that includes Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) and two-time Oscar-winning co-star Maggie Smith (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and “California Suite”).

What did you think of “Downton” and it’s record-breaking opening? Do you think it will have any effect on the film’s Oscar chances?

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