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Adventures / Climbing / Will Free Solo Win the Oscar?

Writer Mary Anne Potts

All of us at ROAM are wishing the entire Free Solo team a victorious run at the Oscars tomorrow night. As co-director Jimmy Chin is one of our founding contributors, we have been following the film since Alex Honnold first suggested *maybe* he would try to free solo El Cap years ago. But in our minds, the doc, which is nominated in the Academy Award’s Best Documentary Feature Film category, is already the most successful outdoor film of all time. Win or no win, it has truly transcended the outdoor world to receive the highest honor in filmmaking. Period. It’s a big moment.

To put our nervous energy to work, we dug up a few facts about other outdoor-themed films that have had big moments at the Oscars:

IN THE DOCUMENTARY CATEGORY
• In 2018, cycling doping exposé Icarus won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
• In 2009, Man on a Wire won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film and the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Free Solo also won a BAFTA and is nominated for Best Doc in the Academy Awards. Hmmm…

IN THE SCRIPTED CATEGORIES
• In 2004, Wild about Cheryl Strayed’s transformation while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail got the Academy Award nod. Reese Witherspoon was nominated for Best Actress and Laura Dern for Best Supporting Actress.
• In 2011, 127 Hours, the story of Aron Ralston’s survival epic when he cut off his hand with a multi-tool after getting pinned in a canyon by an enormous boulder, was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Actor for James Franco and Best Picture.

NO OSCAR LOVE BUT MADE TONS OF MONEY
Cliff Hanger, from 1993, made $255 million worldwide.
Point Break, the original from 1991, grossed $84 million in its global theatrical release.
Point Break, the remake from 2015, grossed $134 million globally from a $105 million budget.
Free Solo has currently grossed $16 million domestically. In comparison, directing duo Jimmy and Chai’s last documentary film, Meru was shortlisted for the Oscar, but not nominated. It grossed $2.3 million domestically.



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