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Surprise! Producers guild picks 'Hurt Locker' over 'Avatar' as best picture

January 24, 2010 |  8:59 pm

If ever a movie appeared destined to win the best picture award bestowed by the Producers Guild of America, it was "Avatar," but — surprise — the PGA chose "The Hurt Locker" instead.

Producers guild of america pga award the hurt locker news 2

Aren't producers supposed to care chiefly about profit? "Avatar" is just a day or two away from becoming the top-grossing film of all time, surpassing "Titanic," directed by "Avatar" helmer James Cameron, while "The Hurt Locker" merely grossed $16 million worldwide. Back in 1997, PGA and the Oscars both picked "Titantic" as best picture.

What's especially significant about "The Hurt Locker's" victory at PGA is that the guild expanded the best picture race to 10 nominees this year, just like the upcoming Oscars, and it employed a preferential form of balloting similar to the peculiar method used by the Academy Awards since the 1930s. Does this mean that we now know what film will win the top Oscar?

Over the past 20 years, PGA has correctly forecast best picture at the Academy Awards 13 times. However, most of that agreement was in earlier years. The Oscars and PGA Awards agreed on the last two choices, "Slumdog Millionaire" and "No Country for Old Men," but they disagreed the previous three years.

Some kudos watchers believed that the guild would automatically pick "The Dark Knight" as best picture last year because producers care a lot about their films' succeeding financially. "The Dark Knight" was not only the top-earning movie of 2008 ($531 million in the U.S., $997 million worldwide) but the second-biggest-grossing pic of all time, surpassed only by "Titanic" ($1.8 billion worldwide in 1997).

But "Slumdog Millionaire" was a fantastic financial success in other ways. Produced for only $14 million, it went on to gross $377 million worldwide. Not so "The Hurt Locker," which was produced for $11 million and sold only $16-million worth of tickets at the box office.

"The Hurt Locker" has racked up other impressive best-picture wins, including laurels from the four top critics' groups: New York, Los Angeles, national society and broadcast journalists.

Photo: "The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) 

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