Minesweepers: a film that has gone down in history, but a terrible commercial failure – teller report


Released in 2009 and broadcast tonight on W9, “Minesweeper” won Kathryn Bigelow the first woman to receive the Oscar for Best Director … But was also the biggest box office flop in the history of the Oscars ceremony.


Launched in 2009 in the festival circuits, Minesweepers by Kathryn Bigelow has followed an impressive upward trajectory, by chaining the awards to Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, National Society of Film Critics Awards, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Directors Guild of America, BAFTAs, Writers Guild Awards… to name just a handful.

The acme was logically expected for the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010. That year, Bigelow’s film, cited in nine categories including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, competes with Avatar of James Cameron. An artistic duel which has a particular flavor from elsewhere; Cameron having been the husband of Kathryn Bigelow several years previously, from 1989 to 1991.

The producer of Minesweepers banned from ceremony

The race for the Oscars was however badly started for the film crew. Nicolas Chartier, the French producer of Minesweepers, had broken Academy Award rules by calling on voters to prefer his film to Avatar.

In an email sent to the Academy Awards the week before the votes, the producer asked voters to reward their “independent film”, and no “a feature film at 500 million dollars”, clear reference toAvatar by James Cameron. This request was a clear violation of Oscar rules, which formally prohibits candidates “to express a negative or derogatory opinion about the films in competition.” Had he quickly posted a mea culpa labeling his email as “inconvenient and stupid”, the damage was done.

As a result, the person concerned had his invitation to the grand ceremony withdrawn. Its citation for Best Film was nevertheless retained, and if Minesweepers was to win the Oscar for Best Picture, the Frenchman would receive his award at a later date at the ceremony. No question of joking with the protocol.

A historic epilogue … and painful

Minesweepers received at the 82nd Academy Awards no less than 6 statuettes: best film, best director, best sound, best sound editing, best editing, best original screenplay; against 3 for the other serious challenger, Avatar.

These awards mark two historical facts: Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to receive the Oscar for best director. A moment of inevitably intense joy for the filmmaker, who will also be this same year selected by the Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In a cruel injustice, among the long list of Oscar-winning films for best picture, Minesweeper was the biggest box office flop in the history of the ceremony, with just $ 17 million in revenue (or 150 times less than Avatar) on American soil. With his six Oscars, Minesweepers was however the most acclaimed and crowned film of the year 2010 with its 75 international awards. It hurts … All the more reason not to miss out on W9 tonight if you’ve never seen this great movie.

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