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With Oscar Buzz Growing Louder, Will ‘Selma’ Also Conquer at Box Office?

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 3.47.48 PMSelma, the newest civil rights drama focusing on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, had a special premiere at the AFI Fest on Tuesday night—and it blew the crowd away.

The premiere at Egyptian Theatre caught the worshipful eye of more than a few critics and is now being viewed as the drama that could stir things up at the Oscars. Industry insiders now believe the film will likely earn a best picture nomination and David Oyelowo has been receiving acclaim as a shoo-in for a best actor nomination.

In addition, director Ava DuVernay could be looking at becoming the first female African-American nominee for director.

The theory has been that there are four spots set for lead actor: Michael Keaton (Birdman), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game). Oyelowo would either have to take one of these slots or slide into the fifth spot. The front runners for the fifth spot are Jack O’Connell in the upcoming Unbroken and Bradley Cooper for American Sniper, which premiered immediately after Selma on Tuesday night.

The front runners for the directors race are considered to be Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher”), Richard Linklater (Boyhood) and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman), along with Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and James Marsh (The Theory of Everything).

Originally Paramount had only planned to show 30 minutes of footage from “Selma” in its presentation at AFI Fest. But it was revealed Sunday night in a Twitter exchange between DuVernay and co-star Oprah Winfrey, who also produced the film, that the whole film would screen.

So now that Hollywood is abuzz with Oscar talk for the film, there comes the all important question of whether it will make money. If it follows in the footsteps of other recent like-minded movies, then chances are the box office numbers wont disappoint.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which followed White House butler Cecil Gaines as he served under eight U.S. presidents during the time of the Civil Rights movement, grossed over $100 million domestically. The critically acclaimed 12 Years a Slave only made around $57 million domestically.

So on top of the Oscar buzz, Paramount and Oprah surely are hoping for a repeat of The Butler.

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